Hermosa Beach Summer Series opens this weekend
By Ryan McDonald
After moving to Southern California, the band Iglu and Hartly mostly played shows in neighborhoods surrounding the Hollywood area. But as singer and keyboardist Jarvis Anderson recalls, one night, a group of guys came to an Iglu and Hartly shows and, after the set, suggested the group play the South Bay.
The band booked a show at The Shore on Hermosa Avenue, where The Standing Room is today. To the surprise of the then-new act, they were asked to come back. Over the ensuing years, Iglu and Hartly rose to fame, scored a hit with the single “In this City,” and went on hiatus. This Sunday, when they reunite in a stage on the sand south of the Hermosa Pier for their first show in more than seven years, they’ll be looking out at a place they say played a special part in their music career.
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“It was the first place that loved our music,” Anderson said.
“It was the most palpable reaction that we felt from an audience,” added fellow singer and keyboardist Sam Martin.
Iglu and Hartly will cap the second day of performances Sunday as part of a slate of offerings in the Hermosa Beach Summer Series, which will take placey over the coming two weekends. They will join more than a dozen other musical acts and comedians as well as two film screenings. Days will open with exercise classes and beach clean-ups in the morning, as well as an all-day beer garden and slate of food trucks.
The Summer Series is the rebranded offering that is replacing the Hermosa Summer Concerts. Event producer Allen Sanford helmed the summer concerts for nine years and received mostly compliments, but parted ways with the city when the two were unable to come to an agreement for a renewed contract.
The uncertainty over who would put on the concerts dragged on long enough to impact the organizers’ ability to book acts. 5B Artists and Media, the company putting on the concerts, was not announced as the event producer until April. Music industry professionals have said that, for an August date, acts are often booked in the fall of the previous year.
Under Sanford, the summer concerts took place on each Sunday in August. Asked about the change to two, two-day concerts, Clay Busch of 5B told Hermosa’s Parks and Rec Commission that they had originally intended to structure the series as a once-per-week event, but changed course in part because of the struggle to secure acts.
The other big change for this year’s concerts is what Cory Brennan, founder of 5B Artists and Media, has described as the festival-style experience that the Summer Series hopes to create. This includes some things likely to win favor from residents, including morning exercise classes from Soho Yoga, and a beach clean-up partnership with Heal the Bay. But other elements, including a beer garden that will open at 11 a.m., have created concern. At the time the City Council agreed to the contract with 5B, City Manager Suja Lowenthal said that staff would negotiate with 5B over whether a beer garden could be held, and said that it was one of the ways that the city could make the concerts pan out financially for a producer with limited time and no ability to charge for admission.
The beer garden will be curated by Brew HaHa Productions, an Orange County company that has organized well-received craft beer events throughout the state. The slate of beers on offer tilts toward those in the South Bay and environs, and city staff has said that the producer will be told to emphasize sampling as opposed to overconsumption. But taking up all of Parking Lot A — just after it was fully occupied for more than four days for last week’s Teen Choice Awards — and bringing in food trucks that will compete with downtown restaurants has created concern from some local businesses.
Recognizing that its first year is something of an audition, 5B has been striving to form partnerships where it can, including with Friends of the Parks, which will be putting on the movies on the beach, a partnership Sanford rejected but which several council members had sought.
“I was prepared to hate you guys. But I was impressed by what you proposed,” Parks and Rec Commissioner Robert Rosenfeld told organizers at a meeting last month.
Organizers expect approximately 6,000 to 8,000 people to attend the summer series per day, but, touting the drawing power of the acts, said that the number could increase. For Iglu and Hartly, it’s both a stage in the sand, and a chance to tap back into a place that helped fueled their rise.
“One of the big things about coming back together has been retaining what shaped us in our early experiences playing in the South Bay,” Anderson said.
“The South Bay was more like a place to play that had a real soul. When we were in Hollywood, the audience was more like a blank slate paint on. But the South Bay, it’s got a real heartbeat. Probably because it’s right on the ocean,” Martin said.