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Sting rocks the hits and Dirty Heads deliver a beachy vibe on day one of BeachLife

Under a chilly night sky with thousands of fans eagerly waiting on the turf field in front of the main stage, with his bass guitar strapped around his wide shoulders and looking incredibly fit in a tight t-shirt and white jeans, rock icon Sting walked nonchalantly onto the stage at BeachLife Festival in Redondo Beach.

The crowd almost didn’t seem to notice the former frontman for The Police until he started his epic hit-filled set with a song that was fitting for the beach-loving fans, “Message in a Bottle.”

“Just a castaway, an island lost at sea, another lonely day with no one here but me,” the 72-year-old legend sang as the crowd ate it up and sang along.

Yet day one of the South Bay’s biggest festival was anything but lonely for the thousands of music fans who attended the three-day event.

  • Dustin Bushnell of the Dirty Heads performs on the Lowtide...

    Dustin Bushnell of the Dirty Heads performs on the Lowtide stage during the Beachlife music festival in Redondo Beach on Friday, May 3, 2024. (Photo by Drew A. Kelley, Contributing Photographer)

  • Seal performs on the Hightide stage during the Beachlife music...

    Seal performs on the Hightide stage during the Beachlife music festival in Redondo Beach on Friday, May 3, 2024. (Photo by Drew A. Kelley, Contributing Photographer)

  • Festivalgoers pose for photographs on a mechanical pickle during the...

    Festivalgoers pose for photographs on a mechanical pickle during the Beachlife music festival in Redondo Beach on Friday, May 3, 2024. (Photo by Drew A. Kelley, Contributing Photographer)

  • Scott Reynolds performs on the Speakeasy stage during the Beachlife...

    Scott Reynolds performs on the Speakeasy stage during the Beachlife music festival in Redondo Beach on Friday, May 3, 2024. (Photo by Drew A. Kelley, Contributing Photographer)

  • The Dirty Heads perform on the Lowtide stage during the...

    The Dirty Heads perform on the Lowtide stage during the Beachlife music festival in Redondo Beach on Friday, May 3, 2024. (Photo by Drew A. Kelley, Contributing Photographer)

  • Day one of the three day music festival, Beachlife, in...

    Day one of the three day music festival, Beachlife, in Redondo Beach on Friday, May 3, 2024. (Photo by Drew A. Kelley, Contributing Photographer)

  • Jared Watson of the Dirty Heads performs on the Lowtide...

    Jared Watson of the Dirty Heads performs on the Lowtide stage during the Beachlife music festival in Redondo Beach on Friday, May 3, 2024. (Photo by Drew A. Kelley, Contributing Photographer)

  • The Dirty Heads perform on the Lowtide stage during the...

    The Dirty Heads perform on the Lowtide stage during the Beachlife music festival in Redondo Beach on Friday, May 3, 2024. (Photo by Drew A. Kelley, Contributing Photographer)

  • Jared Watson of the Dirty Heads performs on the Lowtide...

    Jared Watson of the Dirty Heads performs on the Lowtide stage during the Beachlife music festival in Redondo Beach on Friday, May 3, 2024. (Photo by Drew A. Kelley, Contributing Photographer)

  • Seal performs on the Hightide stage during the Beachlife music...

    Seal performs on the Hightide stage during the Beachlife music festival in Redondo Beach on Friday, May 3, 2024. (Photo by Drew A. Kelley, Contributing Photographer)

  • Seal performs on the Hightide stage during the Beachlife music...

    Seal performs on the Hightide stage during the Beachlife music festival in Redondo Beach on Friday, May 3, 2024. (Photo by Drew A. Kelley, Contributing Photographer)

  • City And Colour performs on the Lowtide stage during the...

    City And Colour performs on the Lowtide stage during the Beachlife music festival in Redondo Beach on Friday, May 3, 2024. (Photo by Drew A. Kelley, Contributing Photographer)

  • The Dirty Heads perform on the Lowtide stage during the...

    The Dirty Heads perform on the Lowtide stage during the Beachlife music festival in Redondo Beach on Friday, May 3, 2024. (Photo by Drew A. Kelley, Contributing Photographer)

  • Seal performs on the Hightide stage during the Beachlife music...

    Seal performs on the Hightide stage during the Beachlife music festival in Redondo Beach on Friday, May 3, 2024. (Photo by Drew A. Kelley, Contributing Photographer)

  • From right, G. Love and Donavan Frankenheimer perform on the...

    From right, G. Love and Donavan Frankenheimer perform on the Hightide stage during the Beachlife music festival in Redondo Beach on Friday, May 3, 2024. (Photo by Drew A. Kelley, Contributing Photographer)

  • From left, Brianna Patti and Mickey Henderson of San Pedro...

    From left, Brianna Patti and Mickey Henderson of San Pedro enjoy a slice of pizza during the Beachlife music festival in Redondo Beach on Friday, May 3, 2024. (Photo by Drew A. Kelley, Contributing Photographer)

  • An artist live paints during a performance by G. Love...

    An artist live paints during a performance by G. Love and Donavan Frankenheimer on the Hightide stage during the Beachlife music festival in Redondo Beach on Friday, May 3, 2024. (Photo by Drew A. Kelley, Contributing Photographer)

  • The band Bedouin Soundclash performs on the Lowtide stage during...

    The band Bedouin Soundclash performs on the Lowtide stage during the Beachlife music festival in Redondo Beach on Friday, May 3, 2024. (Photo by Drew A. Kelley, Contributing Photographer)

  • From left, Logan Kruse and Robert Spindler enjoy a game...

    From left, Logan Kruse and Robert Spindler enjoy a game of cornhole during the Beachlife music festival in Redondo Beach on Friday, May 3, 2024. (Photo by Drew A. Kelley, Contributing Photographer)

  • Bedouin Soundclash performs on the Lowtide stage during the Beachlife...

    Bedouin Soundclash performs on the Lowtide stage during the Beachlife music festival in Redondo Beach on Friday, May 3, 2024. (Photo by Drew A. Kelley, Contributing Photographer)

  • From left, Missy Shepherd and Tryon Rosser pose for a...

    From left, Missy Shepherd and Tryon Rosser pose for a photograph during the Beachlife music festival in Redondo Beach on Friday, May 3, 2024. (Photo by Drew A. Kelley, Contributing Photographer)

  • Fans of the Dirty Heads dance during their performance on...

    Fans of the Dirty Heads dance during their performance on the Lowtide stage at the Beachlife music festival in Redondo Beach on Friday, May 3, 2024. (Photo by Drew A. Kelley, Contributing Photographer)

  • The Samples were the first to take the stage at...

    The Samples were the first to take the stage at the fifth BeachLife Festival, which opened May 3 in Redondo Beach. (photo by Lisa Jacobs/SCNG)

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Besides Sting, the Friday lineup included Dirty Heads, Seal, City and Colour and several other acts on four stages. And as has become the tradition for BeachLife, day one set the relaxing and laid-back tone that continues throughout the weekend at the festival, which aims to celebrate beach culture, art, food and, obviously, music.

With the Seaside Lagoon parking lot transformed into a park-like setting thanks to lush green turf, people played cornhole, ping pong and beer pong with big red plastic cans instead of cups. Some sat on couches and bean-bag style cushions in front of the main stage or sang karaoke between sets.

Many, like Utah resident Holy Hartman, laid on blankets on the turf just absorbing the sun once the early morning clouds moved on.

“I’m just having a good getaway and relaxing. It’s just a place where you can lay down and enjoy the atmosphere or get up and dance when you want to,” said Hartman, who was reading a self-help book on the grass in the early afternoon.

Over at the Lowtide stage, which is closer to the ocean, some people walked barefoot on the sand right in front of the stage, or hung out on hammocks. Music fans ate well too, thanks to food options that included Le Burger by Michelin-starred restaurant Camphor, and the always popular Spicy Pie pizza, which has pretty much become a sought-after culinary headliner at festivals like Coachella, Stagecoach and others.

But the day was really about the music with some very memorable sets happening on the smaller stages.

Sporting a brown cowboy jacket with tassels, brown slacks and cowboy boots, Texas-based singer Abraham Alexander thought most festival-goers would probably have no idea who he was as he opened the small Riptide stage by the festival entrance with his 3 p.m. set.

But with his soulful voice and blues and R&B-drenched love ballads, he quickly attracted attendees entering the festival who made a right turn to hear his music instead of walking on by to the main stage area. His new fans were then slowly swaying their shoulders and nodding their heads to Alexander’s music.

“I feel great. You’re coming to a festival where practically no one knows who you are but at this festival they make it in such a way that people get to discover new artists. I felt people were really into the set and what I was saying and doing,” he said after his hourlong set.

And keep an ear out for Alexander because he just released his debut record and is getting ready to head on the road with blues rocker Gary Clark Jr., who previously performed at BeachLife in 2021

Meanwhile at the Speakeasy stage, where punk-rockers and others perform stripped-down versions of their music, Warren Fitzgerald, the guitarist for The Vandals, had the crowd eating out of the palm of his hand with a lighthearted set of some of The Vandals best songs including “My Girlfriend is Dead,” “Money’s Not an Issue,” and “It’s a Fact.”

Dressed in pink pants and pink polo shirt with a green vest on, he almost looked like a singer at a kid’s birthday party, especially since he ended his set with his version of “Baby Shark.” But his fans were passionate and waited for him after his performance to take pictures or talk him up about his music and The Vandals.

“This is just me doing a lot of The Vandals songs that I love. I don’t do it very often and it’s very scary and I said, Why not,’ and it was fun,” he said.

But why end it with “Baby Shark?”

“I call it irritatement. It’s like entertaining and irritating at the same time and that will linger with everyone all day long,” he said with a laugh.

The feeling of being on vacation lingered later on at the Lowtide stage where the Dirty Heads, who combine rock, reggae and rap, performed a 7 p.m. set during what some refer to as the “golden hour” of a festival, where the sun starts setting and the day slowly dims into the evening.

The band played hits like “Lay Me Down,” “Medusa,” and perhaps one of the most crowd-pleasing songs of the night, their cover of John Walsh’s catchy reggae-driven hit “Life’s Been Good.”

It had many fans feeling pretty good about their day.

“I feel like I’m on an island or something hearing them on the sand, like where’s my coconut drink?,” said Long Beach resident Patricia Gomez as she danced to “Life’s Been Good.”

But the night clearly belonged to Sting.

“It’s my first time in Redondo Beach,” he told the crowd.

According to festival officials his BeachLife performance was Sting’s first SoCal festival appearance in more than 20 years. And he left his mark on the festival with a performance that included classic hits like “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic,” “Can’t Stand Losing You,” “Fields of Gold,” and “Roxanne,” and others.

The festival continued Saturday with Incubus and Devo and Sunday with  ZZ Top and My Morning Jacket as the main acts.

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