BeachLife Festival Review

The folks in Redondo Beach allowed the organizers of BeachLife to put together a satisfying three day music festival, mostly on the sand. Despite some breezes cooler than expected, the location was perfect for celebrating the beach vibey lineup of musicians. The promoters touted the event as “the first and only live music, food, and lifestyle experience on the shores of Los Angeles.”

Although the event was available to stream, the good vibrations were most evident on sight at the well-organized and well-attended festival.

Steel Pulse

On Friday Steel Pulse was followed by Slightly Stoopid on the Lowtide Stage. Both bands were well chosen, the former with more authentic reggae roots and the latter with a SoCal inflected version. Headlining Friday was Bob Weir, who led his Wolf Brothers through a set that appealed to the myriad Deadheads weaving about. Bassist Don Was was relieved of his duty as a record executive for the day, enjoying his bare feet and acoustic stand up instrument.

Bob Weir

The tone of BeachLife was very relaxed. Two times folks offered to take my empty beer cups to the closest garbage pail. And they weren’t staff. There was plenty of food and beverage choices on offer, without the dreaded lines seen at Coachella and Stagecoach in the desert.


Dawes delivered a strong set Saturday afternoon at BeachLife. The band said they had not rehearsed in many weeks, and wanted their performance to be fresh (a somewhat frank disclosure), but few people would have noticed anyway. The band is now well-oiled (having once been hired to tour as Jackson Browne’s band), with some great guitar work underpinning the arrangements.

Violent Femmes started strong, but lost many when people shifted from the Hightide Stage to garner a better position for Jason Mraz. “Gone Daddy Gone,” indeed.

Mraz outfitted his nine piece band (the majority from the distaff side) in colorful jumpsuits. Several songs in he offered a non-PC introduction to the band, calling them The Calmeltoes. In addition to an evocative cellist and shredding lead guitarist Molly Miller, the band also included Chaska Potter. Potter gained notoriety as a UCLA volleyball star and member of the band Raining Jane. The spiker moved fluidly across a range of strings.

Jason Mraz

Mraz eschewed his bandmembers’ jumpsuit motif and went for an ‘80s DayGlo neon on black pajama ensemble. He laid in some well-received Redondo lyric references among his upbeat and uplifting themes.

There was also some good band choreography, last seen equally well deployed by David Byrne. Unlike George Harrison who kicked of the Bangladesh benefit concert with music from India, Mraz dropped a sitar solo into the last third of his set. It worked well, adding unique sonic textures as the sun set.

The most poignant artist to perform all weekend was Brian Wilson, who closed Saturday night’s festivities. He and his brothers got their start nearby many many decades ago. The themes on which they built their career (and on which towns like Redondo achieved similar worldwide fame) were well represented in the string of Beach Boys classics. Admittedly, seeing Wilson today is more an act of homage than an expectation of fresh artistic genius. The only song on which he took more than a passing vocal was “Do It Again,” which seems like a perfectly chosen reason to see him as often as possible on stage. Nonetheless, there was never a close up of Wilson on the screen, although the rest of the other dozen musicians onstage were shown plenty.

Willie Nelson

Sunday’s lineup was capped by Ziggy Marley and Willie Nelson. The former included several of his dad’s hits, which were very well received by the toes in the sand audience. Willie belied his age, taking lead vocals and much of the rhythm guitar work during his set of classics.

There are now three significant multi-day music festivals along the coast south of Los Angeles. BeachLife in Redondo, Ohana in Dana Point and KAABOO in Del Mar. The market seems to be able to absorb all three, which is a delight for music lovers.

(photos by Jessie Lee Cederblom)


Brad Auerbach has been a journalist and editor covering the media, entertainment, travel and technology scene for many years. He has written for Forbes, Time Out London, SPIN, Village Voice, LA Weekly and early in his career won a New York State College Journalism Award.