Monday, September 21, 2009

The West Beach Music Festival

As a huge fan of the rock music embraced by UK music fans, it’s fair to say that I am green with envy as I witness, via the internet, the coming and going of the festival season on the other side of the Atlantic. I live vicariously through the numerous UK fans that are lucky enough to have the summer season chalked full of massive festivals that take place within reasonable pilgrimage distance. That’s not to say that we don’t have great of music festivals in the States, it’s just that unless you make it to Coachella or Lollapalooza, you aren’t going to see big international acts play the same stage.

Yesterday, however, I got over my UK-envy and reconnected with my California roots at the West Beach Music Festival in Santa Barbara. California music festivals have a sound and a culture all their own: a sun-soaked mix of cultural diversity, wafting smells from taco stands mixed with burning weed, chicks in bikinis, and the blend of surf-rock, skater-rock, reggae, punk, ska, hip-hop, dance and Latin sounds. West Beach, in its third year and 14,000 fans strong, takes place on the strip of sandy beach between the wharf and the harbor.

This is not a concert review. I did not see the headlining acts, including Ben Harper and G-Love, who I have seen play live before. But thanks to a well-connected friend, I was able to attend the sold out Sunday show featuring Santa Barbara’s own Rebelution, and SoCal favorite, Pepper. I enjoyed Rebelution, think they have a good reggae-rock sound and are very listenable. My attention span faded a bit during Pepper’s set; they sounded like Sublime to me, down to the vocal styling, but with less provocative lyrics. But hey, Brad Nowell died 13 years ago and every new decade of California college students needs their own Sublime-like sound. It’s the perfect backdrop to that beachside kegger.

As California reggae-rock grooved on in the background, I walked around, ate some food, drank some beer, looked at the art, and soaked up some sun. It wasn’t Glasto, but it felt good to embrace my own Left Coast festival culture. It was a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon - the festival-goers were happy, mellow, and everyone seemed to be feelin’ irie.


P.S. Chatting up a Spicoli look-alike is pretty much as one-sided a conversation as you might imagine.

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