Ryan McDonald

Council okays deal for Hermosa Beach summer concerts

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by Ryan McDonald

The Hermosa Beach City Council Tuesday night approved an agreement that will maintain free concerts on the beach in August.

The council voted to award a contract to 5B Artists and Media, a Southern California-based talent management and event production group whose roster of represented artists includes Hermosa punk rockers Pennywise. Under the terms of the deal, 5B will “organize, manage and conduct” the summer concert series at its expense in August for the next two years, with an option to extend for a third.

For 5B, revenue from putting on the series is expected to come from sponsorships and, possibly, a beer garden. According to Community Resources Manager Kelly Orta, now that the contract has been approved, staff will examine whether a beer garden could be erected during each of the four August concerts in Parking Lot A, the same place that holds a beer garden during the biannual Fiesta Hermosa.

City code prohibits alcohol sales and consumption on the beach, and the council said there was no intent to change this. But the possibility of the beer garden, which would be approved administratively by staff rather than by council, made some on the council hesitant, and led to a narrow 3-2 approval vote.

Councilmember Jeff Duclos said that Hermosa frequently receives requests to allow alcohol at events on its beach — which, unlike the sand of its neighbors, is municipally owned — and worried about where the decision could lead the city.

“It’s not just, How do we handle this event? It’s, How do we navigate this going forward?” Duclos said. He noted that the AVP annually asks the city for permission to sell alcohol during the annual Hermosa Open volleyball tournament.

City Manager Suja Lowenthal said the beer garden provision was inserted because having one would ease the financial pressure faced by 5B in putting on the concert series for the first time, and to secure talent under a relatively brief timeline. Staff have previously said that many touring acts have August dates booked by the previous fall.

The vote comes after the end of a relationship with Allan Sanford, who had produced the last nine years of summer concerts. The city voted in the fall to issue a request for proposals for the concert series after Sanford had sought a $30,000 payment to supplement whatever money he was able to make from sponsorships. (Sanford had also asked to explore the possibility of alcohol sales). Sanford declined to make financial details available, but said in interviews that he lost money for the first several years of putting on the concerts until he was able to grow the event and establish relationships.

Duclos said that he had looked over the 5B’s website before the meeting, and in videos of previous events it had staged he noticed a preponderance of hard-rock artists and events. 5B manages multiple acts known for intense sound and a macabre stage presence, including Behemoth and Slipknot, and puts on events like MegaCruise, a heavy metal festival held on a cruise liner with the tagline “Thrashing Through the Pacific.”

“While they were well orchestrated and well attended, it occurred to me that if a family were to show up those children would have to instantly go into therapy,” Duclos said to laughter.

Corey Brennan, the founder and CEO of 5B, said that while the company has a niche in the metal world, they do all kinds of musical events, and have worked with “legacy acts” like Stevie Nicks and Robert Plant with decidedly mellower results. Brennan, a South Bay resident, pointed out that city staff would have to approve any acts, and said that his top priority would be curating music in tune with the rhythm of Hermosa.

“I know what people in the community want to hear, and I’m going to tailor it to the community,” he said.

Prior to Tuesday’s meeting, Brennan made a few calls to agencies that book talent, and said that he was confident he would be able to secure this sort of talent.

“We have to move fast; we’re behind the eight ball. But I know we can do it,” he said. ER

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