BeachLife Festival 2023: Day One

The first weekend of May had finally arrived, which, for residents of Redondo Beach and the greater South Bay only meant one thing — BeachLife is back! Friday just so happened to also fall on Cinco de Mayo for the 2023 installment of the four-year fest, adding even more excitement and a south-of-the-border flair to it all.

Walking in through the gates, you could immediately tell that 2023 was a STEP UP.

Art installations and giveaways were everywhere, with lots of room to wander in between the main walkways. The main stage kicked off with high energy, thanks to Gym Class Heroes’ Travie McCoy reminding us how we all still want to be billionaires SO EFFIN BAD. Here’s to aiming high! Over on the sandy stage, posited right smack on the beachfront, four-time GRAMMY-winner Poncho Sanchez turned up the Latin flavor (very complimentary to it being Cinco de Mayo). Although the cumbian beats made for a good dance party, you couldn’t help but overhear the bellowing noise coming from the smaller Riptide Stage. Curious, we headed back towards the front gates to witness what can only be described as ‘jaw-dropping talent’. Battle of the Bands winners XYZPDQ looked like babies (at least compared to the seasoned artists on the rest of the lineup), but don’t let these high schoolers fool you — despite being only 17 or 18, they perform like total rockstars. Fronted by a female vocalist, who had the look of Avril and the range of Paramore, it was overly evident that this band is going to be BIG. Well done, XYZPDQ — until we meet again!

Keeping the midday energy up at an all-time high next was The Airborne Toxic Event.

First impressions — where has this band been my whole life? With melancholic lyrics paired to fierce folk rock, this band is all you could possibly want out of the genre of ‘alternative’. Live, with violinist Miriam “Mimi” Peschet twirling and frontman Mikel Jollett crooning, The Airborne Toxic Event is a sight to behold and a live show not to be missed.

Lest we forget about the Speakeasy Stage, nestled away on the far end of the beach next to another artists’ alley. Performing throughout the day was rising star Claire Wright with her country twang, Zander Schloss of Circle Jerks, Jonny Two Bags of Social Distortion, and Devon Baldwin closing the stage down with her acoustic-style evening dance pop. Back on the main stages, LP came out to uproarious applause, followed by the mellow music of Kurt Vile, and everyone’s favorite sister duo Tegan and Sara. Was Sara on mushrooms? Was it all lies? We will never know, according to Tegan.

After taking a brief hiatus over at the Riptide Stage to catch Florida-based Babyjake, it was time for the big three — Pixies, Modest Mouse, and gajillion GRAMMY-winners The Black Keys. No hyperbole, this is real life, deal with it. Of course, it’s always fun to catch a Pixies show… what, with their lack of setlist and 900 songs to choose from (again, no hyperbole, facts). Modest Mouse followed, with poor lead singer Isaac Brock sporting a head cold and warbling through the set “Bob Dylan-style”. What a trooper! You could feel everyone in the audience radiating get-well-soon juju as the performer impressively kept his energy up, shouting emphatically into the microphone (as he’s known to do).

Last, the time had come for the grand finalĂ© of Day One — The Black Keys.

Every note was on point, every pitch sung perfect, every song well-known… it was quite an experience. And this was only the first day! With the likes of Gwen Stefani, Sublime with Rome, and Sugar Ray on the horizon, BeachLife 2023 was already at legendary status. Stay tuned for Day Two!

Photography by Jenna Shaw; recap by Kristy Rose

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