BeachLife Festival in Redondo Beach goes from blowout to blown out

Billy Gibson's beard and guitar were blowing in the wind shortly before he left the BeachLife stage Sunday afternoon. Photo by Chris Miller

by Kevin Cody

Billy Gibbon’s long red beard was blowing so hard in the wind Sunday evening when he took to the LowTide stage at the BeachLife Music Festival that it looked like he might sail away. Half an hour later he did, along with his ZZ Top bandmates.

Several thousand fervent fans dancing in front of the stage were shocked by the abruptly aborted set. They were protected from the wind because the LowTide Stage faces the Seaside Lagoon, which is underwater except during BeachLife, when the saltwater is drained.

ZZ Top fans were protected from the high winds that the stage was exposed to. Photo by Chris Miller

Winds were gusting at up to 40 miles per hour, prompting the Redondo Beach Fire Department to pull ZZ Top off the stage, and moments later to order the fans to evacuate.

“When the crowd heard the reason, no one protested. Multiple exits were opened and within 20 minutes everyone was gone,” said Chris Miller, who was photographing ZZ Top for Easy Reader.

Initially, the evacuation was thought to be temporary.

Noticed posted on BeachLife's social media after the Redondo Beach Police and Fire

Noticed posted on BeachLife’s social media after the Redondo Beach Police and Fire ordered the fans to evacuate. Photo by Chris Miller

“Out of an abundance of caution, BeachLife is temporarily evacuating the festival for one hour due to high wind,” BeachLife publicist Alexandra Greenberg posted on social media.

But by time Seaside Lagoon was evacuated, Greenberg had posted a second announcement on social media.

“It is with great sadness that we must cancel our programming at BeachLife this Sunday evening due to a serious wind event that put the general public at risk,” the post said.

“While absolutely none of our engineered structures or systems failed,” Greenberg stressed, “the Redondo Beach Police and Fire Department chiefs, and our ownership made a collective decision that to continue would be unsafe…”

Redondo Beach Firefighters file into BeachLife in preparation for evacuating the venue. Photo by Chris Miller

BeachLife opened Friday night on a high note with a widely praised performance by headliner Sting. Saturday’s headliners Devo and Incubus were similarly praised. 

Sunday’s headliner, the psychedelic rock band My Morning Jacket, was to follow ZZ Top.

Rain forecasted for Sunday blew through in the early morning, before performers took the stage at 11:30 a.m. But wind sucked in by the passing squall strengthened throughout the day.

The 80-foot motor yacht Mauretania motors away from the rocks to King Harbor’s main channel during Sunday’s afternoon’s high winds. Photo by Kevin Cody

The Harbor Department hoisted the gale warning flag. The 80-foot motor yacht Mauretania, which had been anchored through the weekend near the small boat launch, where the onboard guests could listen to the concert, motored away from the festival to the main channel shortly before the festival was canceled. ER

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