Festival Review by Jimmy Alvarez & Christina Sanchez
September 16, 2021
There are several larger-than-life festivals happening – Riot Fest, Punk Rock Bowling, Aftershock for starters. These festivals are more than just music; they are food for the soul. The BeachLife Festival lineup and overall feel of the show was something we all needed, and for the first time in what seems like an eternity, COVID wasn’t the featured story.
If you’re a true music fan, BeachLife is a must-see event. This festival is a time capsule of art and culture all rolled into one. It features an eclectic range of artists, all targeted to please your musical palette.
With all that as the backdrop, as you drove through the city of Redondo Beach and everywhere you looked, you could see signs that this event was bringing the city to life in more ways than one. Like most festivals these days, concertgoers had to go through security, but this time you also had to provide proof of COVID vaccination or current COVID test. Despite what we see in the news, concertgoers had no issue with it if it got them in.
As you entered the main area, you could see the large stage looming in the distance, the jetty and Pacific Ocean in the adjacent landscape. Add in the concertgoers enjoying the day and it literally looked like Norman Rockwell moment.
BeachLife 2021 had four stages. The main stages were aptly named Hightide and Lowtide. The two smaller side stages were named Riptide and Speakeasy. I’ll get to the main events, but I thought that the two smaller stages provided some amazing performances.
Trever Keith of Face to Face did an excellent job on Friday, as did Jim Lindberg of Pennywise on Saturday. The verdict is still out on Paris Jackson, but she looked like a million bucks and her enthusiastic fans were happy to see her. With that, the sun was setting in the horizon and the beauty that is the Pacific Ocean took center stage.
Day one was beyond cool. The weather was perfect and the crowd was eager and animated, but not too crazy. Perhaps it’s a Redondo Beach vibe – everyone was friendly, yeah, sure maybe one or two people had one drink too many, but overall the crowd was cordial and they definitely loved letting others know which bands were their favorites.
The Friday lineup was strong from top to bottom, but it had a few standouts. Early birds were treated to Larkin Poe, Monique Powell’s Save Ferris, and The Revivalists. The draw for the day was the alt-rock trinity of Silversun Pickups, Cage The Elephant, and Jane’s Addiction. All three bands brought their A-game.
L.A.-based Silversun Pickups took the stage and immediately took command of the crowd with their signature sound and hi-energy persona. Lead singer Brian Aubert and backing vocals, bassist Nikki Monninger were amped for this one. The fans lost their minds when the band went into their mega-hits “Panic Switch” and “Lazy Eye.”
The other standout was Cage The Elephant. Matt Shultz always seems to bring a performance that fans never forget. Pop Will Eat Itself and Iggy energy were in tow for Cage and Shultz. The theatrical performance was matched in intensity by the tunes the fans screamed for – “Ready To Let Go,” “Mess Around,” “Trouble,” “Skin and Bones,” “Come a Little Closer,” “Shake Me Down,” and “Cigarette Daydreams.” Fans left the Cage set in very good spirits.
The highlight of day one had to be the return of Jane’s Addiction. This band has been a SoCal staple since ’85 and their loyal following was more than ready to see the spectacle that is Jane’s Addiction. Of course Perry Farrell is no stranger to over-the-top getups. This time he took the stage as if he was a cowboy Liberace. Meanwhile, Dave Navarro killed it on guitar, Chris Chaney was Chris Chaney on bass, while Stephen Perkins was his normal hi-energy self on drums. With a cool stage set and women dropping from the rafters, Jane’s blew the roof off the stage with hits like “Just Because,” “Been Caught Stealing,” “Mountain Song,” “Stop!,” and “Jane Says.”
JANE’S ADDICTION at BEACHLIFE
PHOTOS by GREEN-EYED BLONDE PHOTOGRAPHY
Day two was just as perfect weather-wise and the bands were ready to drop a mic! Sugar Ray, Men at Work, Counting Crows, English Beat, Wallflowers, and Fitz and the Tantrums were showstoppers.
Standout moments included a fresh set from Dave Wakeling and English Beat with their kickass ska sounds, especially during favorites “Save it for Later,” “Mirror in the Bathroom,” and “Tenderness” (yes, technically that’s General Public).
Newport Beach’s Sugar Ray did not disappoint. Mark McGrath and company delivered big time with favorites “Every Morning” and “Fly.” McGrath acknowledged the day as being the 20th anniversary of 9/11 with a story of a fan that lost their spouse in the tragedy. “I thought about the power of music and how much music means to people,” McGrath said. “I don’t wanna bring everybody down, I just think I’d be a bit remiss not to remember all those souls we lost 20 years ago. Just remember every moment is precious of every single day.” After our world being shut down for the past year, we all understood the need to take these moments and live for today.
The Wallflowers also provided a memorable set with Jakob Dylan and crew covering Tom Petty’s “The Waiting,” plus their own hits “6th Avenue Heartache” and “One Headlight.”
One of the big moments from the festival was the much-anticipated return to the stage of the Australian band Men at Work. The band from the land down under reminded us why they were the band that could do no wrong back in the day. Fans appreciated the banter with lead singer Colin Hay and they loved hearing songs like “Who Can It Be Now?,” “Be Good Johnny,” and “It’s a Mistake.”
Following the great performance by Men at Work, Fitz and the Tantrums brought down the house. The decibel level may have been over the top when they busted out their uber-hits “MoneyGrabber” and “Out of My League.”
Not to be outdone, on the other main stage, Counting Crows hopped off their headlining tour to close the night with classic hits and new material. Adam Duritz was in top form for all of it and thrilled the crowd with hits “Round Here,” “Mr. Jones,” “A Long December,” and “Hanginaround,” plus a Grateful Dead cover, “Friend of the Devil.”
If the first two days weren’t enough and you survived it, day three took it up to another level. The number of kickass bands was off the charts. Standouts included Fortunate Youth, Gary Clark, Jr., Ben Harper, G. Love & Special Sauce, Portugal, The Man, and Ziggy Marley.
Fortunate Youth brought the Rasta vibe to the venue and their “Cool Runnings” delivery made fans feel like they were in a homegrown setting. G. Love & Special Sauce also made the crowd appreciate the event and it was evident they were local favorites.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention a group that stood out just for their brashness and great sound, that would be Thievery Corporation out of Washington, DC.
One of the performances everyone was talking about was Gary Clark, Jr. There’s a reason Dave Grohl had him on tour with the Foo’s. His mix of rock, soul, and blues had the crowd swaying along to songs like “Got My Eyes On You,” “Gotta Get Into Something,” and “When My Train Pulls In.”
Portugal. The Man was another showstopper and brought the rock to the stage. You could tell lead singer John Gourley could “Feel It Still” with a fantastic set that included covers of Metallica’s “For Whom the Bell Toll” and David Bowie’s “Moonage Daydream.” They also mashed their songs with cover by combining their “Creep in a T-Shirt” with Nirvana’s “In Bloom” and their “Purple Yellow Red and Blue” with Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick In The Wall, Part 2.”
But the end of the weekend was upon us and Ziggy Marley burned down the house, figuratively speaking of course. Paying homage to his father, the crowd was entranced with songs like “Jamming,” “Three Little Birds,” “Stir It Up,” “No Woman, No Cry,” “Get Up, Stand Up,” “I Shot The Sheriff,” “One Love,” “Iron Lion Zion,” “Is This Love,” “Exodus,” and “Could You Be Loved.” The night and festival couldn’t have ended any better.
There are festivals, and then there is BeachLife. Bottom line, this show was curated specifically with the fan experience in mind. The show organizers did it right and every concertgoer there definitely got their money’s worth. We can’t wait to see what they have in store for next year.