Live Report: Beachlife Festival (Day 1)

After taking 2022 off, I returned to Redondo Beach this year for the annual, three-day Beachlife Festival. While last time I covered the fest in one long post, I decided this year to do it day by day (hence the rare Saturday post today).

Not too much has changed since 2021; the festival grounds remain serene, clean and beautiful. The Riptide Stage was swapped with the food booths and water station, but otherwise the general layout remained the same, which I appreciated. It’s not a far walk to any stage, so you never feel the need to rush.

And that’s just one key to what makes Beachlife work; it’s dedicated to matching the vibe of the beach cities – relaxed, carefree, and fun. As I mentioned in 2021, this is not a festival geared specifically towards Gen Z. The line-up of artists has a broader appeal, and the fest attendees were more likely Millenials, Gen X, and even some Boomers. Though the last two groups could be seen with their kids. One attendee I spoke to discussed how this was a great festival that he could bring his family to, and was attending with his wife and kids that day.

On top of the music, the fest celebrates local artists and art with a punk rock flair. This year, performer and fest board member Jim Lindberg (Pennywise) had some of the art from his recent solo album and video on display and for sale. There’s also plenty of comfortable areas to sit, get some shade, and rest in between sets. Welcome returnees include the Kinecta ice cream truck, handing out free ice cream, as well as the Celsius drink bar. You can find a number of free giveaways of snacks and drinks (which is helpful, considered the prices for the actual food are outrageous). Yes, you will have to pay $20 for a hamburger. That sucks, but it sort of comes with the festival territory.

Also new this year was a Skechers x Beachlife Foamies collaboration that attendees could win just by spinning a wheel. Sadly I have yet to win them after three tries, but Saturday will be a new day.

So now for the main reason to attend the fest: the music. I arrived early enough to see Travie McCoy doing his soundcheck, and of course stayed to see his set. Opening with recent solo track “Stop It”, McCoy got the audience to join him in a call-and-response. Soon after that, as McCoy addressed the audience, a front-row fan announced that he was Mrs. Mastro’s son, leading McCoy to choke up a bit and shout out the son and his mother as being one of the first people to encourage him to follow his musical dreams. It was a sweet moment, and played well into the great vibes of McCoy’s set. And while it’s not a total secret as their performance at the next When We Were Young and as openers for All Time Low have been announced, McCoy made it official to the crowd – Gym Class Heroes are back. He then proceeded into the GCH track “Cookie Jar” to get the crowd moving. McCoy then sent love out to Bruno Mars, who worked with McCoy on his hit single “Billionaire”, which was a crowd singalong. Other GCH tracks like “Stereo Hearts” and their breakout hit “Cupid’s Chokehold” followed to close out a great opener for the day.

As I wandered over to Riptide, I heard the sound of Berlin‘s hit “The Metro” coming from the young band on stage. XYZPDQ are a very young trio, but they showed some rock n’ roll balls in their cover choices (Led Zeppelin, The Clash), and their original “Box of Lies” had me going to Spotify to search it out (it’s not on there yet – hey guys, if you read this, let us premiere it on our site when you’re ready!). As of right now, the band only has one song officially released (the catchy “Strange”), so it’s pretty cool they’re already getting to rock out on a festival stage.

I’ve seen Airborne Toxic Event twice in the past, and they continue to be a fearsome live act. While their post-punk inspired sound would perhaps more naturally fit in at Just Like Heaven fest, they broke out their most upbeat rockers for the sunny crowd. Tracks like “Wishing Well” and “Come On Out” faired perfectly well with the crowd, and “Changing” got folks moving. Frontman Mikel Jollet did get serious for a moment when he called out the Supreme Court and told the men of the audience that it was on them to stand up and fight for the rights of the women in the world, leading him to launch into a vicious cover of “I Fought the Law”. While not a very political fest, the female-heavy audience certainly appreciated the sentiment. The band closed with their hit single “Sometime Around Midnight,” which still gets me worked up into a fury. Following their set, I returned to try to win the Skechers foamies, and caught The Beaches in the process. The Toronto group played a catchy and ballsy brand of pop-leaning garage rock that was a blast to hear. While I wasn’t familiar with them prior, I stuck around to catch their set as there was a clear reason why they were brought across the boarder to entertain the SoCal audience.

I next caught Kurt Vile‘s set of hazy, psychedelic folk rock. His style of music was perfect for a sunny afternoon, sitting on the grass (or astroturf in our case) and drifting off. Songs like “Wakin on a Pretty Day” were made for pretty days like this one. While not an extroverted performer, Vile’s smallest audience call-outs and gratitudes went a long way for the quiet performer. More talkative on stage were Tegan and Sara. The Canadian sisters are one of those groups that remind you how many great songs they’ve written throughout their career when you see them live. Early in the set they broke out mid-catalog tracks like “Back in Your Head” which the audience easily sang along with. When Tegan had a guitar mishap, Sara filled time by throwing out witty stage banter and joking about being on mushrooms. Their playful banter was amusing, but no comparison to their actual music. From their indie rockers like “The Con” to dance pop like “Boyfriend”, the duo have developed their sound so naturally over the years that none of these genre shifts feel out of place in their set. Newer songs like “Yellow” and “Fucking Up What Matters” sounded great live, alongside beautiful oldies like “Where Did the Good Go” and “Walking With a Ghost” (which Travie McCoy could be seen getting down to in the VIP section). Their closer “Closer” is simply a pop gem, up there with greats like Robyn‘s “Dancing On My Own”.

The key to surviving a festival is knowing when to take break and get food/rest, and after Tegan and Sara I needed both. While I have love for Pixies, I made the decision to only catch some of my favorites of theirs (“Wave of Mutilation,” “Monkey Gone to Heaven”) so I could pick-up some chicken tenders before Modest Mouse. And much like Pixies were THE college band for Gen X, Modest Mouse were one of them for me. I was right up in front to see the Isaac Brock-led group, and my first time seeing them without their founding drummer Jeremiah Green, who passed away last year from cancer. Opening with the sparse “World at Large”, what was to follow was anyone’s guess. The band has a deep catalog of hits and obscurities. After a heavier number, the group went into the jaunty “Dashboard” which got me pumped.

There is really no group out there that sounds like Modest Mouse, and much of that is because of Brock. The man can growl like a trash dump hobo or bellow like a swamp preacher (such as on the hard-hitting “Bukowski”), or delicately pontificate like a cosmic mystic (as he did with gusto on one of my favorites, “Gravity Rides Everything”). He’s also not the type to end a set with their biggest hit, which is why “Float On” came in the middle. New songs like “Fuck Your Acid Trip” had a shocking energy to them on stage, and single “We Are Between” sounded better live, with the full harmonies and band energy, than it did on record. The group jammed out a heavy closer before thanking the audience and heading out a tad on the early side. I guess it gave everyone time to move back to the High Tide stage for The Black Keys.

I will not say I’m the biggest Black Keys fan – I appreciate them, and enjoy a few of their songs, but the group has never really connected with me. Seeing them live, there is certainly a different energy there. The rawness in their sound comes out, and Auerbach’s soulful vocals carry more sway. The bluesy stomp of tracks like “Howlin’ For You” and “Wild Child” can get you shaking, and the more tender “Tighten Up” had folks full-on performing the song themselves. The light show was effective, and the decision to have their video screens in black and white added to the overall aesthetic. One nice surprise was their cover of The Box Tops “The Letter”. As an Alex Chilton fan, it was great to see them pay tribute to that soulful singer and track.

And so the first day of the fest came to a close. I grabbed a cookie from the Cookiesss booth to tide me over as I returned to my car. Time to rest before day 2!

Celebrity Sighting: Haley Joel Osmet looking for someone in the Black Keys crowd.


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