“The Simpsons” set up shop at the Hollywood Bowl over the weekend -- and tens of thousands of loyal followers made the pilgrimage to witness the epochal event.
Part ultimate fan concert, part musical gift to faithful viewers, “The Simpsons Take the Bowl” played to nearly packed stadiums for three nights. The live show featured cast members (along with celebrity guests, including “Weird Al” Yankovic and Jon Lovitz) performing some of the Fox series’ most famous musical sequences.
Of course, the concert -- which ran from Friday to Sunday -- was also a not-so-subtle plug for the 25th anniversary of “The Simpsons." The ongoing celebration of all things “Simpsons” has so far included a marathon on the FXX cable channel and a coming smartphone app that will give users access to every “Simpsons” episode.
The concert was a full-immersion Springfield event. Ushers wore Sideshow Bob hats while some Hollywood Bowl Orchestra musicians sported Marge’s blue hairdo. “Simpsons” creator Matt Groening appeared early in the show and read from a list of network censor notes. Actor Hank Azaria, who was one of the evening’s hosts, provided a survey of his many characters, including Apu, Moe, Professor Frink and the Duffman.
Times critic Martin Miller filed this review of the concert. For fans who couldn’t be there, here are five memorable moments from “The Simpsons Take the Bowl."
Springfield comes to the Bowl: Ticket-holders were greeted by a Bowl that was decked out in all sorts “Simpsons"-themed paraphernalia -- the family couch, a Duff blimp, a giant three-eyed fish from Springfield River and donuts galore. The concession stands sold Springfield-esque refreshments at Bowl prices. A Krusty burger cost $15 while a can of “Duff” energy drink went for $4.
Are we there yet? The “Simpsons” team created original animation sequences for the Bowl, including a clip showing the Simpsons family making its way to the cheap seats at the top of the amphitheater. (Siblings Bart and Lisa repeated, “Are we there yet?” ) The family’s seats were so high that they ended up sitting on top of the Hollywood sign. Some of the later clips made fun of the Hollywood Bowl Museum -- the place at the Bowl with the “shortest lines.”
Conan O’Brien sings the Monorail song: Introduced as the only “Simpsons” writer whom anyone cares about, O’Brien took to the stage to perform a number from the episode “Marge vs. the Monorail” from the series’ fourth season. Before he sang, O’Brien treated the audience to a brief comic monologue in which he poked fun of the “Monorail” episode’s popularity and his decision to leave “The Simpsons.” He even managed to sneak in a jab at NBC. O’Brien also paid tribute to the late Phil Hartman, who performed the “Monorail” song in the original 1993 episode.
“Spider-Pig” and “See My Vest”: The Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles brought some bona-fide vocal talent with renditions of two “Simpsons” songs -- “Spider-Pig,” which was featured in the 2007 feature film, and “See My Vest,” from a 1995 episode. Hans Zimmer, the Oscar-winning composer who worked on “The Simpsons” movie, made a special appearance during the concert, performing selections from his scores from the movie and the 2012 short “The Longest Daycare."
Do the Bartman: Fireworks usually signal the end of a concert, but in this case, the big finale came afterward in the form of a singalong of “Do the Bartman,” a 1990 single co-written by Michael Jackson that appeared in the album “The Simpsons Sing the Blues.” The late pop singer was also honored earlier in the evening with a rendition of “Happy Birthday, Lisa,” performed by Cartwright, Yeardley Smith and Jackson sound-alike Kipp Lennon.