With four stages of eclectic tunes, sunny skies, and plenty of sand to dance in, California’s BeachLife Festival is a welcome addition to the seaside music fest calendar. After a successful debut in 2019, BeachLife had to put their sophomore edition on hold for COVID-19, but came roaring back this September to plenty of cheering fans.
It’s been two long years since Music Festival Wizard has covered a festival, and let me tell you, the absence of live music has been a blow to all of us personally and to our entire industry. Live events may have been tagged as “unessential” during the pandemic, but when covering music festivals is your full-time job, they feel pretty damn essential. From the staff to the artists to us in the media, there was nothing but smiles all around as we returned to California and the second chapter of the BeachLife Festival.
1. Running the Numbers
2. The Scene
3. Musical Highlights
4. Stray Observations
5. Travel Notes
6. Final Notes
Running the Numbers
Dates: September 10-12, 2021
MFW Beer Index: $11
Highest/Lowest Temperature: 24C/13C (75F/55F)
Reusable Cups? No
Free Water Stations? Yes
COVID Vaccine/Testing Required? Yes
The Venue: Redondo Beach, California
Taking place right in downtown Redondo Beach, this is an easy fest to navigate. There are two big stages along with two smaller ones, and as you might have already guessed from the name, one of them is a sandy beach. The High Tide Stage featured the headlining acts and boasted a massive lawn of artificial grass. For a downtown festival, there were a surprising amount of spaces to sit down and kick off your shoes.
The Crowd: Local Vibe
For someone who has never been to Redondo Beach, I was charmed by the cozy and intimate feel to the crowd. Almost everyone had walked or biked from nearby and seemed pretty happy to have a music festival right in their backyard.
Festing In The Time Of COVID
BeachLife required proof of vaccination or a 72-hour negative test in order to attend. There was a special tent set up to verify your paperwork (took me about three minutes) at which point you received an additional wristband. Masks were not required inside the festival and almost nobody wore them which I was surprised to see.
Acts I Caught and the Unofficial Order in Which I Enjoyed Them
- Jane’s Addiction
- Larkin Poe
- Cage The Elephant
- Ziggy Marley
- Silversun Pickups
- The Wallflowers
- Thievery Corporation
- Ben Harper
- Nicki Bluhm
- The Aquadolls
- The Revivalists
- Counting Crows
- Gary Clark Jr.
- Sugar Ray
- Fortunate Youth
- Men At Work
Favorite Set: Jane’s Addiction
I had already made peace with the fact that I would never see Jane’s Addiction live, so this set was an absolute treat. Seeing Dave Navarro and Perry Farrell back on stage Friday night as my first festival back after such a long absence – hold on, a bunch of dust just flew into both my eyes.
Best Surprise: Ziggy Marley with Ben Harper
Before his headlining spot Sunday evening, Ziggy Marley stopped by to perform with Ben Harper, one of the highlights of the weekend.
One to Watch: Larkin Poe
When you walk into a festival for the first time in a couple of years and catch two sisters (Rebecca & Megan Lovell) just shredding out some roots rock, you know it’s going to be a good weekend.
Most Nostalgic: Portugal. the Man
The first band I ever photographed for Music Festival Wizard was Portugal. the Man back in 2009, so feels fitting that they would also be there at my first festival back. They still put on one hell of a show.
Most Chilled Out Punk: Urethane
Saturday afternoon in the tiny SpeakEasy Lounge boasted a unique lineup of punk rockers playing acoustic sets. My favorite I saw was Urethane, a new band put together by skateboard legend, Steve Caballero.
Most Unhinged Set
Boasting the surreal, high-energy antics of lead singer Matt Shultz, Cage the Elephant rarely disappoint with their live show.
We Need Bigger Balls
I’m just kidding. I got hit six times in the head with this dumb beachball.
I was very impressed with this person’s dedication to dressing up for a festival, only to find out later that this is the mascot for the LA Kings and a fact that I definitely did not have to Google.
Best Dressed: The Silver Surfers
What’s the prime hours for music? Bands started at 11 AM on Saturday and Sunday (a little later on Friday) with the evening headliner hitting the stage around 9 PM. This festival has a hard stop at 10:30 PM and if you feel like keeping the party going, BeachLife had a bunch of post-fest parties.
What’s the weather like? Amazing. Blue skies and warm weather for all three days. You will want something warmer for the evenings as the temperature does drop a bit.
How did you get there? Public transportation in the Los Angeles area has never been easy to navigate. I ended up using Lyft for two days which worked well, although a bit expensive when leaving the festival.
Where did you sleep? There are not a lot of affordable hotels/hostels/Airbnbs in the immediate area, so for two nights I had to sleep out by LAX (25 minute Lyft ride) and the final night at a Holiday Inn in Hermosa Beach (15 minute walk).
We are back! The most cathartic moment of the weekend came on Sunday night when Stephen and Ziggy Marley launched into “Three Little Birds” and the entire crowd started singing back “everything is going to be all right”. Despite the challenges from the past year, BeachLife Festival delivered another successful event and we are thankful we got to be there to experience it.