BeachLife 2024 brings the vibes to match the weather

BeachLife 2024 mainbar TA

Beautiful weather, chill vibes, and an eclectic lineup of bands brought the crowds out for BeachLife Festival 2024 in Redondo Beach and, like in years past, a good time was had by all. And then the unexpected happened.

Friday kicked off with a performance by Colorado’s 90’s College Radio heroes The Samples running through their reggae-influenced alt/folk rock set of classics. As the dancers in the crowd got into the groove, the band’s singer/songwriter/hilarious-banterist Sean Kelly broke out the self-deprecating humor and sang everyone through songs like “Shine On”, “Did You Ever Look So Nice” and “When It’s Raining”. The weather was the opposite of raining as the band kicked into possibly their best-known song, “Taking us Home” from 1992 album “No Room”, with the altered lyric towards the end “He said the strong CALIFORNIA wind” which was a nice touch. Perfect way to end a set, but they had some spare time left so we got “Could It Be Another Change” from the band’s 1989 self-titled album and a bit more of that Reggae influence to send the crowd off to the rest of the fest in the perfect mood.

Bedouin Soundclash

Departing the Astoturfed Hightide stage festival goers headed for the Lowtide stage on the beach for Canadian trio Bedouin Soundclash. If one band encapsulates the eclectic lineup of BeachLife within its set, this is the band. A bit indie Rock, a bit Reggae, a bit Ska, it all comes together in a harmonious sound, highlighted by the raspy vocals of Jay Malinowski, who not only sang and played guitar, but also fulfilled a request from a recently married audience member to play “12:59 Lullaby” for him and his wife. “When the Night Feels My Song” was another great moment, as was the last song “Walk Through Fire”.

On the Riptide stage, Bonnaroo and ACL Fest alum Abraham Alexander was joined by three harmonizing singers as he strummed an acoustic guitar and belted out some of the most powerful indie/acoustic soul. Known for his show-stopping cover of Chris Isaaks’ “Wicked Game”, the highlight of this set was the heartbreaking “Heart of Gold” from his 2023 album SEA/SONS.

Returning to the High Tide stage the audience was treated to a real barnburner of a set from G. Love and Donavon Frankenreiter alternating singing duty from song to song and then absolutely shredding on guitar and Harmonica. Looked like they might’ve been having the most fun of anyone that day.

BeachLife has a great history of songwriter performances by Punk and Hardcore legends at the Speakeasy stage and this year was no different with Warren Fitzgerald of The Vandals doing a stripped-down set including the bands’ “If the Gov’t Could Read My Mind” and “Grandpa’s Last Xmas”. It might be acoustic, it might be less instruments, it might be less people on stage, but he still has an edge. Nice to see it.

City and Colour

Continuing the trend of artists who were in heavy bands and transitioned to a singer-songwriter/Americana direction, next up on the Lowtide stage on the beach was another Canadian act. Perhaps one of the most successful artists to make that transition, Dallas Green, formerly of Alexisonfire but now known for/as City and Colour, led his band through a 12-song set of country-tinged rock tracks with a now sizeable crowd singing along throughout. A cover of Alice in Chains “Nutshell” was a great addition to a setlist that included “Meant to Be”, “We Found Each Other in the Dark”, and the closer “Bow Down to Love”. It was heartfelt, it was fun, it was rollicking, and towards the end when guitarists Matt Kelly and John Sponarski went wild the sound was absolutely epic.

Back to the Hightide stage and it was time for Seal. The massive crowd went wild as he walked out on the stage in a gleaming white suit and proceeded to perform a legendary set. From “20th Century Boy” to “Deep Water” to “Crazy” to “Love’s Divine” Seal and band were at the top of their game. Songs like “Bring it On” and “Kiss from a Rose” are so ingrained in our brains from decades of hearing them that it’s kind of shocking to hear them performed live by the man himself. After saying that it’s hard to fit a 35-year career into an hour set, he was kind enough to offer some insight into his career between songs like how “Kiss from a Rose” seemed like only a moderate success until it was used in Batman Forever and became a massive worldwide hit and changed his career forever. The big surprise in the set was that Seal jumped down from the stage a little past halfway through the set and sang the rest of the performance from inside the crowd. Everyone in the back was left looking at the TV screens on either side of the stage where cameras were trying, and failing, to get a good shot. Seal was feeling the vibes and had to be in the crowd, good for him!

Surfer Blood

Two great performances followed, the most indie rock band of the day Surfer Blood tearing it up at the Riptide stage, and Huntington Beach’s own Dirty Heads, the most Reggae Rock band of the day, hypnotizing the Lowtide crowd with sings like “Heavy Water”, “Island Glow”, Joe Walsh cover “Life’s Been Good”, and their classic “Vacation”.

At 9 o’clock the day’s headliner hit the stage. Playing bass and singing into a wireless headset mic, Sting, joined by an incredible band and backing singers, played a set that was 100% great songs. He opened with “Message in a Bottle”, followed by “Englishman in New York”, and energetic “Every Little Thing She Does is Magic” and “Can’t Stand Losing You”. And so it went, voice sounding amazing, bass playing excellent, Guitarist shredding, and backing vocalists belting it out. As with Seal’s set, they’re all songs we’ve known our entire lives but hearing them live is incredible. It was a mix of Police songs and his own, and he’s a great banterer. He was happy to be in Redondo Beach for the first time ever. It was an emotional night because the band was nearing the end of their performances and going to go their separate ways soon. Before “Fields of Gold” he told the crowd about his home near Stonehenge and invited everyone over for tea if they’re in the area. The night closed out with three Police songs “King of Pain”, “Roxanne”, and “Every Breath You Take”.

Day two of BeachLife 2024 was another eclectic line up with standout performances by heavy metal cover band Chevy Metal (With the mind-blowing drumming of Taylor Hawkins’ son Shane), the timeless reggae of Steel Pulse, the modern reggae of Pepper. Santigold’s set was an energetic rush of island rhythms and pop hooks that enchanted a huge crowd on the Lowtide beach. Grace McKagan blazed through a fiery set on the Riptide stage displaying her powerful voice and high kicks. Indie rock favorites Local Natives flowed through songs like “Megaton Mile”, “Coins”, and “When Am I Gonna Lose You” in a great set on the Hightide stage. Then the crowd filled every inch of the beach at the Lowtide stage for DEVO and they put on an incredible set of their own, with the crowd going wild and singing along throughout. “Whip It”, “Satisfaction”, “Secret Agent Man”, it was all so good. Great animation, costume changes, you couldn’t have asked for more.


Then Hightide headliners Incubus rocked through their set to a fired-up crowd that went crazy for “Pardon Me”, “Come Together”, covers of Portishead’s “Glorybox” and David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance”, and wrapped up with “Aqueous Transmission”. Brandon Boyd’s vocals were perfect, and the bass playing of Nicole Row was exceptional.

Day three at BeachLife 2024 looked like it was going to be the day Indie Rock really took over from the more Reggae-inspired acts. Australia’s Atlas Genius were back to the States for the first time in four years and kicked things off while the crowd was still making its way in. Their fun set, filled with the syncopated Oz sound that just makes people happy. Sugar Ray played the most playful/fun/happy set of the weekend, with singer Mark McGrath cracking wise throughout about the 90’s and his frosted tips and the crowd ate it up.

St. Paul and the Broken Bones put on a high energy classic soul set with singer Paul Janeway out front on the stage singing his heart out and dancing up a storm. The crowd was into it, but once the dance moves started the crowd was really into it. Courtney Barnett blasted off on the Hightide stage with a powerful rocking set combining her unique vocals with some fiery guitar playing. Then everyone visited the Lowtide stage one more time for ZZ Top’s classic rock set. Guitarist/Singer Dusty Hill led the band through hits like “Gimme All Your Lovin’”, “Sharp Dressed Man”, and “Legs” as well as the classics “Jesus Just Left Chicago” and covers of “I Thank You” and Sixteen Tons”. The matching outfits, Bassist Elwood Francis’ 17-string bass, Frank Beard’s huge drum set and gong, and Dusty’s blistering guitar solos were so over the top, but all nailed down by the classic Texas groove the band has been known for all along. It was the best.

Unfortunately, ZZ Top were the last band to play at BeachLife 2024. Just as they started “La Grange” announcements came over the speakers that due to high winds the festival was shutting down for an hour and everyone had to evacuate the grounds. Screens on stage directed everyone to the emergency exits and the huge crowd shuffled out. Announcements said to check social media for updates. Many thought it was not serious but eventually the security teams moved all the attendees out and shut the gates. It was windy, and wind and outdoor stages don’t go well together. Many attendees outside complained that it wasn’t incredibly windy, but it’s the right thing to do to be cautious under those conditions. Many people left. Many people milled around or went to the harbor area next door. Eventually BeachLife posted on their Instagram that the rest of the festival was cancelled. Performances by Fleet Foxes, Trey Anastasio, and My Morning Jacket didn’t happen, and the day was over. It was unfortunate, but no one can say BeachLife didn’t give outstanding value for the entertainment dollars, despite the shorter than expected last day. It was an interesting mix of acts, it was chill, it was exciting, it was iconic, and it was a little shorter than anyone hoped.

Words and photos by Tim Aarons