Skip to content

The Five Best Things We Saw at BeachLife Festival

Event was held in Redondo Beach, Ca., over the weekend
BeachLife Festival
BeachLife in the afternoon (Credit: Connie Levine)

This past weekend (May 5-7), SPIN was on hand at the annual BeachLife Festival in Redondo Beach, Ca. As usual, the fest brought great music to the South Bay, with Gwen Stefani, the Black Keys, and the Black Crowes serving as each evening’s headliner. In addition to the music, there were a number of organizations and local restaurants onsite that gave the festival a distinctly South Bay vibe.

Though everything we saw was great, here are the sets that were our favorites.

Jonny 2 Bags


Jonny Two Bags
Jonny 2 Bags (Credit: Breana Isley)

One of the best aspects of BeachLife is its Speakeasy stag, where singer/songwriters can perform acoustically in a cozy space in front of an intimate audience. For the past handful of months, Social Distortion guitarist Jonny 2 Bags has been sidelined with an injury that prevented him from touring. His Friday afternoon set was his first since being put on the sidelines and it didn’t disappoint. Due to a scheduling snafu, he performed two sets that received rapturous ovations. It was the rare opportunity to see the Southern California favorite up close and hear him showcase his songwriting talents.



LP on stage (Credit: Ron Vasquez)

Traditionally, a Friday afternoon slot can be tough simply due to the smaller crowd size (it is a weekday, after all). Not only was former SPIN cover star LP nonplussed by it, but the artist also managed to draw Friday afternoon’s biggest audience. Throughout the set, folks were drawn to the artist’s magnetic energy and fantastic backing band. LP also debuted a few songs off a new album that will be announced very soon.



Joey Santiago and Black Francis of Pixies (Credit: Ron Vasquez)

Fresh off a European tour and kicking off their North American run earlier in the week, Pixies took the main High Tide Stage just before sundown and stormed through a career-spanning set featuring eight songs from their landmark album Doolittle. Though the set was short on banter, it was heavy on the band’s loud-quiet-loud song structure, which was the perfect backdrop as singer/guitarist Black Francis and guitarist Joey Santiago let their axes do the talking.

Sublime With Rome


Sublime With Rome
Rome looking out at the audience (Credit: Ron Vasquez)

For the past decade-plus, Sublime With Rome has kept the music of Sublime in the forefront. With Saturday being the festival’s de-facto reggae rock day, there wasn’t a better band suited to perform. Add to that a special set where they delivered Sublime’s iconic 1992 debut album 40 Oz to Freedom in its entirety for only the second time, and you had the recipe for one of the most memorable performances in BeachLife history. Songs like “Smoke Two Joints,” “Right Back,” and “Badfish” elicited the biggest roars and were a reminder of why Sublime is one of the most influential Southern California bands of all time.

Mavis Staples


Mavis Staples
(Credit: Ron Vasquez)

Fans who arrived mid-afternoon on Sunday were treated to the amazing Mavis Staples and her fantastic backing band. At 83, Staples remains an American treasure. Her vocals, incredibly, are just powerful as they were 50 years ago. Armed with a fantastic backing band, the singer had the crowd eating out of the palm of her hand. She is showing no signs of slowing down and with all of this in play, Staples is producing some of the best sets of her storied career. This one at BeachLife is no different.