Just Like Heaven 2024 a home run for indie kids (and their kids) of the aughts

Just Like Heaven 2024 mainbar EH

The fourth edition of the Pasadena festival Just Like Heaven 2024 took place last Saturday at the Brookside at the Rose Bowl and the indie kids of the 2000s and their kids in many instances took in a jam packed day of killer performances from the likes of the Postal Service, Phoenix, Death Cab for Cutie, The War on Drugs, and many more.

This year at Coachella, by the end of it I felt like “Damn, I am completely washed up.” For those of us that felt this way about Coachella being too long, too hot, and too full of music that might not be for me, Just Like Heaven 2024 is the one-day festival savior.

The funny thing is that Just Like Heaven 2024 is full of bands that unfortunately don’t seem to get booked at Coachella anymore. Phoenix, Passion Pit and Metric haven’t played Coachella since 2013, Death Cab since 2008, Phantogram, Warpaint, and Two Door Cinema Club since 2017, Miike Snow since 2016, etc. etc. That brand of indie rock seems to have been phased out of the Coachella lineup in favor of more hip-hop, EDM, rap, and music from other parts of the world that never used to get booked.

Metric photo by Eric Han

But there are still many of us that love these bands and appreciate the work they’ve put out in the years since they were more relevant to the mainstream. Metric has put out a number of excellent albums including 2018’s Art of Doubt that was a personal favorite. Warpaint dropped a beautiful record in 2022 called Radiate Like This. I’ve liked all the new material Phantogram has released the past several years. Then you have the comebacks of awesome acts like Brazilian rockers CSS, the second reunion of Arkansas indie rockers Gossip, and Miike Snow playing some of their first shows since Just Like Heaven’s inaugural edition in 2019.

The people that love these bands are often in their thirties and can’t wrap their heads around a 3-day festival in the desert that will undoubtedly affect your sinuses for many days after you return to your regular life. Many of them have kids too! And at Just Like Heaven 2024, you saw LOTS of kids, which was pretty cool. The music of our era is being passed down to those that weren’t alive when Transatlanticism changed our lives, or when that Postal Service record turned popular music on its head.

Phoenix fans photo by Eric Han

Overall, it was an awesome experience to see some of my favorite bands play to crowds that were there to see them and not just wait out their set before the rapper headlining the same stage raps over their own vocal track. The stages were packed all day and the crowd vibes were always pretty good. You may have had to look around before puffing your weed vape to make sure you weren’t blowing smoke into a 12-year-old kid’s face. There weren’t a bunch of people running around on ecstasy. People were truly there to see music, enjoy the sun, and then head home for a lazy Sunday.

My only gripe really is that the sets were all super short. These one-day festivals tend to jam in too many acts and then you end up seeing bands you really love play extremely abbreviated sets. A Warpaint 35-minute set is six songs long. Even more annoying when many of these shows ended five minutes earlier than their scheduled time. Five minutes isn’t a lot of time when people are playing an hour, but when they are playing 30-40 minutes, that’s a huge chunk missing. I would ask that maybe they book one or two fewer bands and give performers a little bit more time. It made me not want to get to the front of any of the crowds, knowing I would be making moves 30 minutes later to get to the other stage to see someone who had already played 10 minutes during the set I was already at.

Phantogram photo by Eric Han

The bands themselves also seemed to love the format of Just Like Heaven 2024. During Death Cab for Cutie’s set where they played Transatlanticism in its entirety, lead man Ben Gibbard remarked how he liked the one-day setup where you “could just go nuts”. Alvvays singer Molly Rankin remarked how many of the bands brought back memories of high school dances — which, damn she must’ve went to a hipster ass high school that was playing this kind of music. Tegan and Sara said they couldn’t wait to get off the stage to go watch some of their friends play. It felt like a lot of camaraderie existed amongst the performers, which was a cool thing to see.

Overall, I think as I continue to get older, I will gravitate more towards these kinds of festivals versus the ones you have to plan your whole life around. I felt washed up at Coachella. At Just Like Heaven 2024, I felt the right amount of washed up by the end of it.

Words by Mark Ortega
Photos by Eric Han