BeachLife Festival’s inaugural weekend spanned May 3rd-5th, 2019 and was as cool as the California breeze with an organic, laid back atmosphere, a stacked lineup and weather like you couldn’t imagine. Redondo Beach’s seaside lagoon location was primo for catching rays, indulging in delicious food, making friends and, obviously, dancing like there’s no tomorrow. The weekend featured an exciting blend of artists, ranging from reggae legends like Ziggy Marley, Steel Pulse and San Diego’s Slightly Stoopid to timeless headliners Brian Wilson (of The Beach Boys), Bob Weir and Willie Nelson, as well as up-and-coming superstars like Grace Potter, Tomorrows Bad Seeds and many more.
BeachLife wins the official Top Shelf seal of approval!
The sets seemed to flow cohesively from one stage to the next. I’d saunter from the smaller Riptide Stage at the entrance to the Lowtide Stage, toes in the sand, with the perfect amount of overlap so that the music never stopped. I didn’t feel rushed, as I skipped happily to the grassy Hightide Stage to see the next group of icons play. The areas were spacious and free-flowing so that everyone had room to spin and dance, and bands — no matter how early a set — played to an overwhelming crowd who had plenty of empty space to move. A win-win for everyone involved. Things kicked off Friday with the sweet smell of paella and sunscreen radiating through the salty air, as crowds sailed rather graciously through the gate lines with little wait time and big grins. Roots Of Creation played mid-afternoon as I hula-hooped my heart out to the unique rootsy twist they throw on old Grateful Dead favorites, like “China Cat Sunflower”. Chris Robinson of The Black Crowes also took the stage Friday evening, kicking things up a notch with his spin-off band, As The Crow Flies.
After Steel Pulse delivered their signature playful reggae set, I had the pleasure of sitting down with them to discuss their upcoming album Mass Manipulation and more! Watch for the interview coming soon and still feel so blessed to sit down alongside such legends. When Slightly Stoopid hit the Lowtide Stage, smoke was flying high and dancers were living large. I would be lying if I said I didn’t shed a tear when Bob Weir made a special guest appearance on the Stoopid stage just minutes before his own set with the Wolf Bro’s that closed Friday night.
Saturday started with same enthusiasm and energy in a slightly different key. Berlin, Sugar Ray and Everclear took us back to the 90’s with alt classics that make you want to jump and twirl. Female-fronted bands like V Torres on the Riptide Stage and Best Coast on Lowtide rocked the boat! Taylor Hawkins (drummer of Foo Fighters) fronted up his cover band Chevy Metal, playing a once-in-a-lifetime Van Halen set, with a special guest appearance by Weezer drummer Patrick Wilson! And Violent Femmes, whose grill master banging percussion section gave it their all for the love of Rock-n-Roll and had me screaming “Carpe the Femme!!!” As Jason Mraz led a colorful, lowkey set over on the sand, let it be known that reggae-rock LA band Tomorrows Bad Seeds simply stole the entire show. A mosh pit even ensued! It’s safe to say no one wanted the party to end and, lucky for us, there was still one more day to go.
The same beautiful sun and pleasant breeze welcomed us on Day Three and since the site was so cozy, you spent much of the day running into the lovely friends you’d met before, all excited to discuss the talent you’d seen so far and giggle anxiously about the thrills still to come. Poncho Sanchez and Charlie Overbey kept it bluesy, soulful and a little bit country — a perfect fit for the chill Sunday afternoon. We all wanted to gear up for Willie Nelson and Family, anyway. Grace Potter took the Hightide Stage in the early afternoon with unmatched energy. “If you’re feeling a little chilly when that beach breeze comes in, I suggest you dance harder!!” She screamed into the mic before hopping up to her drummer for a real badass rock chick moment. Most patrons were members of the local community and walked, biked, or scooted in on Birds to the site, which really reeled in that beach town low-key feeling. Many, like myself, were barefoot in the sand or on the grass with blankets laid out enjoying the atmosphere and the opportunity to kick back and let go of our worries. Between Blues Traveler, Bighead Todd and, of course, Willie Nelson, the first ever BeachLife Festival was officially in the books.
Coming from the same production teams that give you KAABOO and One Love Cali Reggae Fest, it’s no surprise that the weekend was smooth-sailing despite being a first year festival. Preparations for next year have already started taking place, so be sure to get in early and keep your ears and eyes open here for announcements, as BeachLife wins the official Top Shelf seal of approval!
Photography by Kristy Rose & Sean McCracken