It was a three-peat for BeachLife Festival this past weekend in Redondo Beach, the three-day beachfront music event blending legendary hitmakers with nostalgic acts and rising stars. The all-ages shin-dig was met with comfortable temps, lots of drinks, food, art and other goodies as well as four stages of non-stop live music. It was impossible to see everyone and do everything, but we caught a wave of good times and have some highlights to share.
2022 headliners Smashing Pumpkins, Weezer and Steve Miller Band lit up the night’s sky with hits galore, with the Pumpkins’ lead singer Billy Corgan joined by his small children for a couple songs, Weezer covered Metallica like nobody’s business (and Toto and The Clash) and Steve Miller Band probably sounded as strong as they did in 1968 at San Francisco’s The Fillmore.
Smashing Pumpkins’ walk-out song sounded like a film score or classical music played for royals, as Billy Corgan took the stage Saturday in a black kimono with golden embellishments. He took the stage with his small children, who were also on hand earlier in the week for imprinting Smashing Pumpkins’ hands at Hollywood’s Chinese Theatre, making them the first rock band honored since KISS in 1976.
Fellow founding member and guitarist James Iha looked equally fashionable, wearing a black tuxedo jacket with white piping. The band kicked off with “The Colour of Love” off their 2020 album Cyr, with its upbeat, new-wave vibe, and Corgan screamed “Redondo!” mid-song.
Following “Bullet with Butterfly Wings” with solid guitars and drums with the fans singing along, Smashing Pumpkins played inspiring alt-rock anthem “Today”.
Iha said, “We are Smashing Pumpkins” and we are glad to be here Redondo Beach. I was out there surfing earlier, but here we are now”.
They covered Talking Heads’ new wave smash “Once In A Lifetime” and incredible lighting flashed on each side of Billy, with fans clapping during the strobes blinking and a rapid drum solo moment took hold from Jimmy Chamberlin.
The band dedicated “Tonight, Tonight” to their fans of over 30 years, which Corgan and Iha played beautifully on acoustic guitars after also mentioning the full moon glowing that night. Rousing hit “Zero” also made the set list as did “1979”, which closed out the evening.
Van Halen’s “Jump” took over the soundsystem when Weezer took the stage launching into punk-rock pleaser “Hash Pipe”, with fans singing along to every “whoa-oh”. The LA band appropriately continued with “Beverly Hills” which fans new from the first note, ending it appropriately with “livin’ in Redondo Beach California”, followed by cheers from the audience.
Powerpop song “My Name Is Jonas” was next with a memorable guitar ending followed by “Perfect Situation” with more “ohhhs” in which lead singer Rivers Cuomo conducted the crowd and asked for “uno mas por favor” for another round of the chorus from the crowd.
The lights went pink for the feel-good “Pork and Beans” and Weezer played the first of two covers, the first being Metallica’s colossal “Enter Sandman” with stellar guitars and drums, it felt like Metallica was there for a few minutes.
Weezer played new song called “A Little Bit of Love”, the most organic, easy listening tune of the set, with excellent harmonies and an inspiring message (“a little bit of love goes a pretty long way”).
“Undone (The Sweater Song)” and “Islands In The Sun” were a hoot as always, and so was their rocked-up cover of Toto’s “Africa”. “Say It Ain’t So” made the set and for Weezer’s encore they smashed “Buddy Holly” and played yet another cover, this time of The Clash’s “London Calling”.
San Francisco’s Steve Miller Band covered Elmore James throwback “Stranger Blues” for their opening and Miller said “All aboard!”
“Songs are kind of like gardens, sometimes if you sprinkle a little water on them, something grows”, said Miller before his band played a slightly different extended version of “Fly Like An Eagle”. The band’s collective vocals were stellar, as were the guitars and the organist.
The classic rock vibes were in full effect with badass guitars on “Jet Liner” and Steve Miller’s vocals so on point. The vamp was hot and the song sounded as timeless as ever in the American rock ‘n roll songbook.
1977 rocker “The Stake” was red hot with the lyric “nobody loves you like the way I do”. Steve Miller Band’s 1982 #1 “Abracadabra” was next in all its synthy, warped, futuristic greatness. “Living In The U.S.A” had standout organ “Space Cowboy” impressed. The folky “Dance, Dance, Dance” kept the crowd moving and singing along together.
“Swingtown” sounded completely epic, with “whoa-ohhs” echoed from the crowd. “We started out at the Fillmore Auditorium in 1968”, said Miller. “The music was very diverse there and so were the crowds. Monday would be Johnny Cash, Tuesday would be Ray Charles, Wednesday would be Janis Joplin, Thursday would be The Charles Lloyd Quartet and Friday would The Grateful Dead”. The crowd went nuts. Miller then mentioned that his band played there a whopping 120 times, holding the record for the most performances there by a single band. Steve mentioned the great bands that came out of that “musical pot” with Santana’s band being one that really inspired them, before playing “Shu Ba Da Du Ma Ma Ma Ma”.
“Jungle Love” rounded out the set with its timeless, danceable energy, as well as stellar harmonies on “Take The Money And Run” and the iconic “Rock’n’ Me”. A huge roar took over Redondo Beach when Steve Miller Band concluded with their 1973 #1 “The Joker”.
To be fair, Sheryl Crow‘s set honestly sounded like a headlining set, and she should have been a headliner. But she took the golden hour set Saturday with a warm embrace of the crowd. Playing in a pink tank top and jeans with some sparkle, it was the perfect opening with “If It Makes You Happy”, with Crow saying “you sound good!” to the crowd after the first chorus. Some delightful falsetto notes were hit on the 2nd chorus and her voice broke wonderfully too as she strummed like the rockstar she is in her rose-colored shades.
Crow sounded solid on “A Change Would Do You Good” with the organ player harmonizing along with the band’s bassist.
“When I first moved to Los Angeles 35 years ago I lived a few blocks from here”, said Crow. Do you know the Al Green band? All we did was smoke pot on the beach, I was like I gotta get outta here. This is too good”.
Her 1994 smash and Grammy-winning Record of the Year “All I Wanna Do” was played in a slightly bluesier version. She played “My Favorite Mistake” with a lovely high note while the organist complimented her on the vocal and the guitarist flourished on an excellent guitar solo.
“Let’s go all the way back to my first single back in 1806”, joked Crow, strumming gently on guitar for the ballad “Leaving Las Vegas”, hitting her high notes and harmonizing again with her band.
A more country version of “Strong Enough” impressed, sounding as timeless as ever, perhaps even more emotional with the country instrumentation. [The song also appears as a collaboration with Stevie Nicks on Crow’s new Showtime documentary Sheryl].
“How y’all doing out there?”, asked Crow. “It smells like you’re all having a really good time”. She talked about how the documentary about her life was made during the pandemic and she talked about her kids and what they want to do with their lives.
New ballad “Forever” was performed live for the first time and a cover of The Rolling Stones’ “Live With Me” was a highlight with organist Ivan Neville joining Crow and her band. Crow crouched down with maximum swagger at one point, completely crushing it on harmonica. The inspiring “Every Day Is A Winding Road” and feel-good “Soak Up The Sun” were other highlights of Sheryl Crow’s amazing set.
Reggae-rock band 311 played some of the best from their songbook, with lead singer Nick Hexum mentioning, “On June 10, it’ll e 32 years since our first gig and 311 fans are the best in the world, so jump for us”. Included in their set were their cover of The Cure’s “Love Song”, “All Mixed Up” and “Beautiful Disaster”. Lead singer Hexum’s voice was solid on “Amber”, with the crowd singing along to the catchy “whoa-oh” ditty, the upbeat rock-meets-ska track “Creatures (For a While)” had some memorable electronic moments and the guys did a lively drumming jam session together.
Long Beach alternative rock band Cold War Kids showed up to party as always opening with their 2017 piano-rock anthem “Love Is Mystical”, followed by “Complainer”. Their 2021 track “What You Say” was complete fire live with a solid instrumental section and amazing pounding keys. It was perfect for the beach with the lyric, “I’m waiting for the night to come, I’m waiting for the tide to pull me in”.
“Who’s Gonna Love Me Now” was a rockin’ song and on “Miracle Mile”, lead singer Nathan Willett’s signature belt let loose. Willett took the piano for “We Used to Vacation” the first song on their first record, banging his head while at the keys, showcasing his bluesy, soulful voice. The band went hard, working the stage with guitars, the keyboardist harmonizing and cymbals and maracas added to the timeless blues rock song.
“Wasted All Night” had an incredible bluesy vocal, sounding like it could have been in A Star Is Born with Willett starring alongside Lady Gaga instead of Bradley Cooper.
“Can We Hang On?” sounded brilliant with the organ and it was one of the highlights of the set with the crowd clapping along to the arena-ready song. An unexpected cover of Rihanna’s “Love On The Brain” was stellar, and actually perfect for Cold War Kids, with bluesy vocals and outstanding guitars. Other standout moments included the band’s first major hit, 2007’s “Hang Me Up To Dry”, sounding as dirty and swampy and mischievous as ever, Willett shaking a hand percussion shaker while the keyboardist smacked the chords on the piano, leaving the beachfront going crazy. The band closed out with their huge hit “First”, sounding as epic live and outside on the sand as ever, while the crowd clapped along to the final bars.
Michael Franti & Spearhead’s set was loads of fun, with Franti working the stage like a maniac, as usual. The guy radiates positivity, joy and healing through his music, launching his lively set barefoot for its entirety saying “Let me see you jump!” before playing “How We Living”. He danced across the stage, getting his fans dancing while wearing a black hat that said Stay Human, the name of his 2001 and 2019 (Vol. II) albums.
Franti’s guitar tech passed him his red and white strapped guitar that also said Stay Human for “I’m Alive (Life Sounds Like)”, Franti jumped across the stage strumming the infectious song. Breezy “Life Is Better With You” followed with the crowd clapping to the danceable pop/rock tune followed by “The Sound of Sunshine”, in which a fan named Mickey joined Franti on stage, singing the choruses with the band.
“All My Friends”, “Soulshine” and “Follow Your Heart” were equally fun and then a poignant moment in the set when Michael Franti shared that his father died of Covid the previous year and he gave some love to all the first responders” prior to playing “Brighter Day”. The rhythmic song inspired and he acknowledged that a lot of people were probably still hurting, but the song brightened the mood and he gave permission to fans telling them to let go. Franti ran into the crowd to give high fives and then ran up to the lofted VIP area and wrapped his arms around police officers.
Grammy-winning Latin fusion six-piece Ozomatli brought their unique blend of salsa, hip-hop, reggaeton, funk, merengue and more to an eager crowd while the Star Wars theme played as the band took the stage. Ozo’s six members were non-stop for the entire set, including Asdru Sierra on lead vocals, trumpets and keys, Raul Pacheco on lead vocals and guitar, Willy “Wil-Dog) Abers on bass and vocals, Justin Poree on rap vocals and percussion, Ulises Bella on saxophone, melodica, clarinet, guitar, requinto, keys and vocals and Jiro Yamaguchi on drums and percussion.
“La Gallina” kicked off the set mixing Latin with hip-hop and some incredible moments from the horns. Though it was Sunday mid-day, “Saturday Night” brought Poree front and center rapping for the hip-hop tune with a call-and-response with the crowd, yelling the band’s name. The band played two new tracks off their upcoming album Marching On, (being released on July 15), including party song “Una Mas”, mentioning that it is their first album in five years. The other song “Sacude” had explosive trumpet and sax from Sierra and Bella. “Paleta” was high-energy as well with Poree dancing around the stage and spinning around, getting the crowd amped up. Ozomatli thanks the crowd for hanging with the band for 27 years, concluding with “Como Ves” and taking the band throughout the crowd, parading all around the entire grounds for an unforgettable, massive jam session.
British reggae-pop band UB40 were impressive all around, joined by original singer Ali Campbell. They made it celebration throughout with bongos and horns sounding incredible and Campbell’s voice also in-tip-top shape for “Here I Am Baby”, “The Way You Do the Things You Do”, “(I Can’t Help) Falling In Love With You” and “Red Red Wine”. A mid-tempo, reggae version of Prince’s “Purple Rain” also did not disappoint.
New York’s reggae rap-rocker Matisyahu rocked some blue hair under a Supreme baseball cap, a sleeveless t-shirt and red track pants, impressing with his rap skills on the danceable reggae tune “Shade From the Sun”. Early career hit “King Without a Crown” from 2005 offered a hot instrumental section, a beatboxed outro, giving a shout to Jason Lindner on the keyboards. Matisyahu’s massive spiritual calling card “One Day” wrapped up his set.
LA pop duo Capital Cities packed a non-stop dance party with Sebu Simonian telling the crowd by the end of the set, “Thank you so much, we are so glad to be back. This is our first show in three years”. The guys were joined by phenomenal saxophone players Spencer Ludwig and Will Artope on almost all songs including “Venus & River”, “Patience Gets Us Nowhere Fast”, “Kangaroo Court” and their inescapable “Safe & Sound”, which was elevated with the live horns. The guys squeezed in an amusing new song called “Fuck It” (“we’re all gonna kick the bucket”) and managed two covers including a groovy version of the Bee Gees’ “Stayin’ Alive” and a bouncy rendition of Prince’s “Nothing Compares 2 U”.
Stone Temple Pilots were back with new lead singer Jeff Gutt who joined the grunge band in 2016 following original member Scott Weiland’s passing in 2015. The band brought fans back to the early and mid-90s with other biggies including “Vasoline”, “Sex Type Thing”, “Big Empty” and Gutt crushed his vocal on “Interstate Love Song” while guitarist Dean DeLeo’s parts sounded as pure as ever.
Blues rock artist Devon Allman (son of Gregg Allman) performed with his Devon Allman Project joined by Samantha Fish and Ivan Neville for several songs. Ivan Neville was an absolute beast on the organ for the set and the psychedelic guitar mastery was apparent from Allman on “Fired Up”. Blues singer Samantha Fish joined Allman for a memorable cover of Steve Nicks and Tom Petty’s “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around”, whipping her hair on the instrumental while one of the percussionists hit the tambourine.
The bunch also played Fish’s “Better Be Lonely” with her killer vocals soaring while joined by Ivan Neville on the organ. Donavon Frankenreiter was added to the mix for his funky song “Move by Yourself” and the entire group played Allman Brothers Band’s 1971 classic “Midnight Rider”.
Australian singer-songwriter Vance Joy played some new tunes (off upcoming June 10 release In Our Own Sweet Time) as well as some favorites during his golden hour set on Saturday. Joy hit some really beautiful notes while harmonizing with the two guitarists behind him on “From Afar” and he greeted the crowd. “It’s such a pleasure to be here”, said Joy. “We can finally be at festivals together enjoying one another’s company. We haven’t played together as a band for over two years so this is a nice way to bring it back”.
Vance Joy’s return included catchy new song “Missing Piece”, offering beach perfection as the horns joined in. Debut album feel-good love song “Mess Is Mine” brought the “ah-oohs” and the horns livened the tune with the drums tapping and fans hands up while dancing. Another new love song “The Way That I’m Going” really impressed lyrically and melodically. “Don’t Fade” was forever timeless as the sun was going down, “Saturday Sun” was performed on ukulele with all the feels and “Riptide” brought the house down.
Grammy-nominated psychedelic rock band Black Pumas made a huge impression, with Eric Burton on vocals and Adrian Quesada on guitars, with standout backing vocalist Lauren Cervantes singing her heart out like a true secret weapon throughout the band’s set. Their “Confines” sounded like an old song from the 60s or 70s, with organ and bass taking the cake on some hot moments as a cool breeze rolled in from the ocean. “Black Moon Rising” offered another soaring vocal from Cervantes, complimenting Burton’s spiritual vocals. “Mrs. Postman” found Burton sliding over to the mic with so much finesse mid-song, and while Cervantes may have served some Brittany Howard vibes prior, on this one her jazzy inflection sounded like Alicia Keys. Burton was still dancing following the song, “Hey, I’m having a good time”, said Burton. “Thanks for dancing with me, that was real nice”. The Black Pumas’ timeless smash hit “Colors” closed out their set, with the entire band sounding so tight, with excellent harmonies and an amazing guitar instrumental. A couple bars of “You’re All I Need To Get By” were perfection near the end and the lights flashed in different shades while the organ smashed, followed by a final falsetto moment from Burton and a huge applause.
LA rock band, the Grammy-nominated act The Record Company launched into their big song “How High” with its solid guitar vamp, the pulse of the drums from Marc Cazorla, an organ player in the mix and awesome harmonies from bassist Alex Stiff (and another guitarist) joining in with singer Chris Vos. “On The Move” showed off Vos’ fiery harmonica skills and stage presence as he worked the stage in a red industrial shirt and a pair of Chucks, giving non-stop energy with a muffled mic. The guys covered Beastie Boys’ 1992 rap-rock hit “So What’cha Want” with thrilling guitars. Vos was seated while playing his lap steel guitar for the timeless blues-rock song “Off The Ground”, at one point coming into the crowd during the performance. The monster rock song “Life To Fix” had all musicians going hard with a badass extended instrumental section and the crowd got some more harmonica on the final song “I’m Getting Better (And I’m Feeling It Right Now)”.
LA indie-rock band Lord Huron showed up with their western-meets-surf rock vibes, dapper in all suits and lead singer Ben Schneider in a Southwestern tribal style jacket and shirt. The desert-theme stage was souped up with lit up cacti and a path allowing Schneider to roam around to drummer Mark Barry. The band shined on 2015 song “Fool for Love”, “Mine Forever” with Schneider harmonizing with Misty Boyce on the keys and guitarist Brandon Walters, and brought the moody vibes on “The Night We Met”.
Electro-pop band CANNONS shined throughout their set in the sun, with lead singer Michelle Joy in a sparkle bra and a black barely-there sarong, while the other band members wore black with a hint of sparkle. The danceable opening of 2019 “Shadows” brought the vibes on with Joy’s hands up, getting the crowd moving. “How’s everyone doing today?”, asked Joy. “Thanks for coming to hang out today with us at BeachLife Festival, we’re excited to be here. This is our first time playing in Redondo”. CANNONS played a number of songs off their new album Fever Dream including the sensual and dreamy “Ruthless”, full of new wave-y vibes from the guitars, synth and drums. “Bad Dream” included pulsating rhythms and Joy held the mic stand slithering down slowly. Older song “Talk Talk” brought to life some early 2000s Gwen Stefani vibes. Joy mentioned “Hurricane” is one of the band’s favorites to play off the new album, with its alluring production and whistling effects. The bass thumped on a cover of Harry Styles’ “Golden”, reggae vibes were in full effect on “Purple Sun” and CANNONS’ worldwide hit “Fire For You” had the most addicting bassline, as Joy spun on stage and danced up a storm.
New York pop/rock duo DREAMERS filled in for Atlas Genius two days before they took the stage and completely crushed it. Featuring Nick Wold on guitar and vocals and Marc Nelson on bass and keys, the guys got “higher” on “Drugs” with Wold’s blue hair and Nelson in a Galaga video game sweater, while their drummer wore a shirt with a racecar motif. DREAMERS performed their indie rock cover of ASAP Rocky song “L$D” and their new ska-meets-rock tune “Palm Reader” featuring Upsahl and Outkast’s Big Boi impressed. They played another new one called “Body Language” as well as the grandson-featured swampy punk-rock banger “Heat Seeker”. The uplifting “Someway, Somehow” made the set list as well as the band’s catchy early 2014 hit “Wolves (You Got Me)”. “Die Happy” was anthemic with pounding guitars and energetic guitars and “Sweet Disaster” was a perfect send-off.
German band Milky Chance brought their groovy tunes including “Stolen Dance” and “Synchronize”, Rita Wilson’s folk-pop “Halfway to Home” and “Because Love” inspired and over at the Jack Daniel’s SpeakEasy Stage, Everclear’s Art Alexakis stripped down some favorites and Useless ID’s Yotam Ben Horin strummed some folk-rock songs, along with Fortunate Youth’s Dan Kelly, singer-songwriter Lily Meola and Tomorrows Bad Seeds.
Elsewhere at the BeachLife Festival, fans cozied up with a date at the DAO SideStage for an upscale dining experience while watching their favorite acts, kinecta offered free popsicles, ice cream and hand sanitizer throughout the three days, beachfront games were popular at Tito’s Backyard, fans were happy to snag a fresh pair of Zenni sunglasses and Havaianas were on site with some new flip-flop styles.
BeachLife Ranch was also gently teased exclusively to BeachLife Festival fans, a new country and Americana three-day event from the same founders, taking place September 16-18 with performances from The Lumineers, Daryl Hall & John Oates, Dierks Bentley, Brandi Carlile, Wilco, Lukas Nelson, Songs of Waylon Jennings, Greensky Bluegrass and more to be announced.
Main image by JP Cordero