Review by DAN MACINTOSH
Photos by LUIS MORENO
REDONDO BEACH, Calif. – Day One of BeachLife Festival 2021 kicked off with a contrast in front men.
One was the younger Matt Shultz of Cage the Elephant, while the other was Jane’s Addiction’s (now) elder statesman, Perry Farrell. Both are strong visual personalities, and each brought plenty of rock and roll vibes (albeit, with sometimes starkly differing approaches) that got this three-day weekend festival started off on the right foot.
Jane’s Addiction’s been a mainstay on the Los Angeles music scene since 1985, but you’d almost think this act had something to prove on this warm September evening. Dressed like a cross between a Liberace-angel and bullfighter, Jane’s Addiction’s Perry Farrell was fully animated from the get-go. He danced, pranced, and even playfully shook his ass while the muscular band of Dave Navarro (guitar), Stephen Perkins (drums) and Chris Chaney (bass) surrounded the slender vocalist/entrepreneur with plenty of eclectic instrumental coloring.
Nothing exemplified Jane’s Addiction’s lively spirit more than the band’s performance of its hit “Been Caught Stealing.” At one point Farrell scatted notes, and then Navarro replicated these sounds on his guitar, for a spirited sonic sparring session. Farrell is 62, but you’d never believe that after seeing him work the stage so well tonight. Jane’s Addiction decidedly has nothing at all to prove.
Cage the Elephant’s Shultz has obviously studied Iggy Pop’s stage antics well and brought plenty of youthful Pop-ish energy to a festival lineup with few other noisy rock acts on the bill. Beach people may WANT gentle wave-rolling reggae grooves, but they also NEED a syringe full of undiluted Rock N Roll now and again.
In contrast to Farrell’s many times more light-footed moves, Shultz often flailed around the stage with reckless abandon. And at the point where he took off his shirt, his Pop homage was nearly complete. When Shultz sang about being “born on the wrong side of the train tracks” during “Broken Boy” (a song recorded with Iggy Pop, by the way), he could have been referring to how his upbringing may have been far less affluent than the high-priced homes in surrounding Redondo Beach. However, all the energy and loud sounds he brought with him made him very much a welcome guest.
The festival’s location features four stages. Two (named Hightide and Lowtide) are the main stages, while Riptide is a smaller side stage and SpeakEasy is the event’s acoustic music venue.
Paris Jackson drew a small, but loyal audience to an early Riptide set, and didn’t disappoint with a pop-rock set that didn’t really sound anything like her famous, moonwalking father. Although the SpeakEasy sure could have used more seating (many ended up settling for sitting on the ground), that didn’t seem to matter much to those that gathered to listen politely to The White Buffalo’s melancholy acoustic folk songs.
Sure, there will also be plenty of easygoing, island life inspired musical vibes spread around during the remaining two BeachLife festival days, but it was sure good to crank up the loud electric guitar rock to jumpstart day one.
Check out our coverage here at California Rocker.