AIlen Sanford dreaded having to sit in traffic and wade through downtown Los Angeles to see a show at the Greek or the Hollywood Bowl.
He was also fed up with concert promoters scheduling shows west of Interstate 405, away from what he called the mecca of culture and taste.
“I selfishly thought if I could figure out how to put on an event that I didn’t have to drive to and I could skateboard, that would be pretty awesome,” Sanford said.
As a restaurateur with a portfolio of 14 restaurants, Sanford wanted to offer a festival coupled with a dining experience.
“I was talking to friends when I started and we talked about how cool it would be to have a restaurant on the side of the stage,” he said.
Sanford then considered places, like Redondo Beach, where he surfs, swims and often hangs out with his daughter. This project materialized in 2019 with the birth of the BeachLife Festival.
He wanted the party to go on, but the big switch COVID-19 buried the festival in 2020, leaving Sanford uncertain for 2021.
BeachLife Festival returned last year, and the 2022 iteration is Friday, May 13 and Sunday, May 15 at Redondo Beach. This year’s lineup includes Weezer, Black Pumas, 311, Cold War Kids, The Smashing Pumpkins, Stone Temple Pilots, Capital Cities, Phantom Planet and Sheryl Crow.
“This is our third year doing this and last year we were one of the first festivals to return from the pandemic,” Sanford said.
“Everything ended up looking like something out of a storybook. The turnout was great. People wanted to have a good time and smile. We were being overly cautious with our COVID-19 protocols and the artistry we put in place exceeded expectations that day.
Ahead of this year’s festival, Sanford aimed to curate a diverse lineup.
“What we try to do is book based on how emotional you feel at a festival rather than book a bunch of good bands,” Sanford said.
“Friday is when you’re usually amped up and have a ton of energy. Our Friday night is high level and wild party music. Saturday is like a day off, hanging out with friends and having a good time with nice music. Sunday is more the day for music lovers, where it might be a little more musically advanced or nostalgic as you wind down the weekend.
With headliners ranging from classic rock to reggae to pop, each day offers a mix of sounds and experiences.
“It’s fun enough to go to the beach with your friends on the weekend, but when you add these groups it takes it to the next level,” Sanford said.
BeachLife will host three stages, two for headliners and one for breakouts. The fourth space pays homage to one of California’s most famous genres.
“The fourth stage is the speakeasy stage where we display our punk rock roots through acoustic sets where we can focus more on artist writing chops rather than loud distorted guitars,” Sanford said. .
In addition to offering a stacked lineup on stage, BeachLife will deliver an experience that will set it apart from other festivals.
“The dining part is the key to the whole puzzle,” Sanford said.
“Catering is one of those things that goes hand in hand with live music. Imagine having a five-course dinner prepared by a Michelin-starred chef while you’re 20 feet from Billy Corgan sipping amazing wine on the beach at night. That’s about as cool as it gets.
Michelin-starred chefs will also feel like rock stars.
“I just love all of this creativity that comes with culinary arts and musical arts and putting these things together,” Sanford said.
He hopes the event will be memorable for everyone involved.
“If anyone from across the country comes and has this experience, I think it will become one of their treasured memories or one of their moments in time that they will share over the next 30 years,” said he declared.
Beach life festival
WHEN: 1 p.m. on Friday May 13 and 11 a.m. on Saturday May 14,
and Sunday May 15
WHERE: Redondo Beach, 137 N. Harbor Drive, Redondo Beach
COST: Tickets start at $159 for one-day general admission tickets
INFORMATION: beachlifefestival.com for fixed times