Tag Archives: House of Blues

Anaheim GardenWalk: Reinvented?

The Beat’s offhand mention of Anaheim GardenWalk got me curious and I went looking around for more info on the mall’s current status. The last few times I’ve been there, it’s been practically a ghost town: behind the anchor restaurants out front, there were a handful of stores, then nothing, nothing, more nothing, and finally a movie theater way at the back and a Johnny Rockets that probably only stuck it out because it was so close to the theater. (The mall opened in 2008 — very bad timing — and never recovered.)

Apparently they’re trying to reinvent it as a restaurant/entertainment hub, with House of Blues moving over from Downtown Disney and more luxury hotels. (What is it with the luxury hotels?) Edit: I think I’ve been to the old location a half-dozen times, and it did suffer from sightline issues and crowding. They’re taking over part of the movie theater at Garden Walk to build the new venue, which will be bigger, add some seating areas in addition to the standing room, and have some of the side spaces as well. I think the HoB has a better shot than the rest of the mall, honestly.

So I’m not convinced, but if it works out, it could benefit WonderCon next year. It’s not a super-long walk (except in hot weather), and if they have a shuttle for parking like last year, it would make it even easier to get to.

From a comment at The Beat’s article on the Guardians of the Galaxy ride opening at Disney’s California Adventure.

San Diego and Butterfly Boucher

We’ve been following singer/songwriter Butterfly Boucher since 2004 — in fact, since the first day we tuned in to the now-defunct Indie 103.1 and heard “Another White Dash” for the first time. We caught her opening for Barenaked Ladies a few months later and picked up her album, then caught her again opening for Sarah McLachlan later that year. Her second album, “Scary Fragile”, finally came out on Tuesday (it’s very good — Katie says it may be the best sophomore album she’s ever heard), and she’s doing a concert tour. She’s playing in Los Angeles most of this month, but timing worked out better for us to go see her in San Diego on Saturday. So we bought some tickets and made a weekend trip out of it.

Historic San Diego

We drove down after lunch on Saturday and hit Old Town San Diego on the way in. (More Highlander Grog!) I could swear I don’t remember having trouble finding it before, but the last few times it’s been hard to get to even following a map. At least we managed better than we did in December, when we ended up several miles inland before we could find a place to cross the inlet.

I don’t remember much going on the last time we were there, but this time Old Town was in full-on living history mode, complete with tour guides dressed up in 1800s outfits and a horse-and-buggy ride.

I’d booked the Courtyard San Diego Downtown because it’s literally next door to the House of Blues. It took a while to negotiate the one-way streets, but once we arrived, we stepped inside and were blown away by the lobby. It turns out that the hotel used to be the building for the San Diego Trust & Savings bank. After the bank closed in the 1990s, Marriott bought it and converted it to a hotel. The vault, safe deposit rooms, and other rooms on the first floor became a conference center, and the offices on the upper floors became guest rooms. They’ve preserved as much of the old look of the place as possible, down to keeping the mail slots on the former office doors. (Don’t worry, they’re blocked.)

We ate dinner at Chopahn (6th Ave. near F St.), an Afghan restaurant we first visited during last year’s Comic-Con. It was empty when we got there, which I hope was just because we were there on the early side, because the food is great. Another couple arrived while we were eating, but they were the only people we saw other than the waitress. She had started pushing tables together as if they were expecting a larger party later on.

After dinner we wandered the Gaslamp district for a while. I kept making notes of where various hotels or restaurants were located. Eventually I realized I was basically scouting for Comic-Con next month.

Around 7:00 we made our way to the House of Blues.

Concert

That’s when we discovered that we’d been under a misapprehension about the nature of the venue. Continue reading

Smilers in Concert

@#%&*! SmilersWent to see Aimee Mann on Friday at the House of Blues. She’s promoting her new album, @#%&*! Smilers (and yes, it’s pronounced as you might expect, though she also gave an alternate pronunciation of “Effing Smilers”), which just came out last week. Of course, this meant that most of the audience either hadn’t heard the new songs, or had only heard them a few days before. Old favorites like “Save Me” tended to get cheers as soon as people recognized the intro music. With the new stuff, people were quieter, as if they were waiting to hear the song for the first time. But they all got applause in the end.

In the past, when we’ve gone to the Anaheim House of Blues, we’ve tried to eat at Downtown Disney. It always proves problematical, with restaurants either not taking reservations for parties of two or not having any reservations left. This time we just ate near home and drove up after dinner. We got there after the doors opened, but before most of the audience arrived, and managed to claim a spot dead center in the main floor, much closer than we’d ever been to this stage.

The opening act was Rebecca Pigeon. She was quite good, and a good match stylistically. (Too often, you only get one — or neither. We still joke about “Corn Mo” who opened for TMBG a few years ago.) She started with “Tough on Crime,” which Katie figures has to have a Heroes video in it somewhere. Interesting fact: it turns out she’s married to David Mamet.

By the end of the opening act, the house had filled up considerably, and was respectably packed by the time Aimee Mann took the stage. Continue reading