Ryan McDonald

Lineup for Hermosa Beach Summer Concerts announced

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The lineup for the coming free summer concerts on the sand in Hermosa Beach. Image courtesy 5B Artists and Media

By Ryan McDonald

Hermosa Beach will host two weekends of free summer concerts on the beach this August, with an eclectic and modern collection of acts playing on stage in the sand the last two weekends of the month.

This year’s offerings will be closer to a festival style experience than in the past, with acts playing both Saturday and Sunday, August 17 and 18 and August 24 and 25. There will also be other entertainment — including beach yoga, comedy and a film screening — bookending musical performances expected to start at 5 p.m. each day. Along with the stage on the sand south of the pier, organizers will also deploy food trucks and a “craft beer garden” set up in the parking lot on the east side of The Strand, akin to what is offered during Fiesta Hermosa.

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Cory Brennan, founder of 5B Artists and Media, the company putting on this year’s events, said that he enjoyed the summer concerts Hermosa previously put on, but said that he felt there was an opportunity to expand the experience.

“I’ve been to the Hermosa concert series before. I’ve biked to Hermosa from Manhattan Beach with my family, and it’s always been a blast to watch the bands on stage. But that’s all that it was: bands on a stage. I’ve always thought there could be more to offer,” Brennan said.

This summer’s concerts mark the first time in nearly a decade that events will not be put on by Allen Sanford. Over nine summers, Sanford, the owner of Saint Rocke, was credited with finding putting on exciting live shows that remained locally oriented and family friendly. But Sanford and the city became embroiled in a public spat over renewing the contract to put on the concerts, and Sanford, who in May produced the Beach Life music festival in Redondo Beach, declined to apply when Hermosa opened up its summer concerts to the public bid process. 

The council, however, did not formally award Brennan’s firm the contract to put on the concerts until April. That left 5B less than four months to secure talent for the show. Acts of the caliber that have taken the stage for Hermosa’s concerts are typically booked eight months in advance.

“The short window really complicated the job. But I knew that going in. We work with booking agencies all the time, and we made acts that seemingly weren’t available, available,” Brennan said.

Under the terms of the contract, 5B also had to clear the selected artists with city staff and the Hermosa Beach Police Department, in order to ensure that the acts fit the atmosphere Hermosa sought. The concerts are expected to draw thousands of people, both locals and visitors, to the town. Elected officials recognized the concerts to be a notable branding opportunity for the city, but also a chance to continue the current council majority’s vision of a “family-friendly” downtown area. 

At the time they awarded the contract to 5B, elected officials in Hermosa were closely divided over the idea of a beer garden, ultimately voting 3-2 to give City Manager Suja Lowenthal the discretion to permit one in the course of working with the producer. Before the vote, Lowenthal said that, because the concerts are free, the chance to operate a beer garden would ease the financial pressure on an event producer. Past summer concerts were bankrolled through sponsorships, and 5B has secured sponsorship partners for the event, including radio station KROQ and local eateries the Standing Room and Sharkeez. But the short timetable made providing an additional revenue source especially important. 

Some on the council, however, said that while said they respected the package 5B had put forward, they were uncomfortable with the beer garden. They noted that the city frequently received requests to serve alcohol in association with high-impact events on its beach, and warned that the decision could set a precedent. 

“It’s not just, How do we handle this event? Its, How do we navigate this going forward?” said Councilmember Jeff Duclos, who joined Councilmember Justin Massey in voting against awarding 5B the contract.

The lineup, announced at 9 a.m. Monday, features a greater focus contemporary acts fitting under the broad umbrella of “alternative” music. Headliners include Atlas Genius, Iglu and Hartley, the White Buffalo and Mariachi El Bronx. Brennan said that he aimed to create something “a little bit more modern” than the typical offerings of previous summer concerts

“When I went in to talk with the City Council, I told them, I’m not going to make them something totally different from what it was in the past. But we definitely wanted to take things in a different direction,” Brennan said.

Brennan, who has been in music promotion for more than 25 years, said he expects the acts to appeal to a broad demographics. Atlas Genius, from Australia, scored a hit in 2011 with “Trojans,” a catchy and earnest ditty built around a pulsing guitar riff that straddled electronica and garage rock. L.A. based pop rockers Iglu and Hartley rose to fame in 2008 with “In this City,” and went on hiatus in 2011, making the show in Hermosa a reunion of sorts.

“We still can’t believe we will be coming back together to reunite in our old stomping grounds. Hermosa Beach was always a place of love and support for Iglu and Hartley, and we considered it a second home,” frontman Jarvis Anderson said in a statement.

Along with music, the concerts will also feature live comedians and a film screening done in conjunction with Hermosa’s Friends of the Parks; the film for the first weekend is the surf classic “North Shore,” while the film for the second weekend will be decided in a poll. And on each Sunday and Monday, concert organizers will partner with Heal the Bay to host a beach cleanup.

The contract 5B received authorizes two years with an option for a third, and Brennan said that he plans to make “every year better and better.” And although Brennan is in tune with the “festival-ization” trend that has characterized the music business in recent years, he remains dazzled by the opportunity to surround good music with surf and sand.

“It’s a really special opportunity, and it’s easy to forget how nice it is that we can just walk down the street and go. I go to music festivals all over the world, but the opportunity to just ride my bike down the street and hear music on the beach is still really special,” Brennan said.

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