Doheny Days Music Festival
Sept. 10 to 11, 2011
Doheny State Beach, Dana Point
The Doheny Days music festival breezed into Doheny State Beach in Dana Point over the weekend like a much-needed relaxing day at the, err, beach--especially when you consider what we've been up against in terms of the local music and nightlife scene. Let's just take a little gander at what life in Orange County has been like for many of us over the past few weeks: Insane heat accompanied by random power outages across the county leaving most of us sweating balls with little promise of relief? Check! Crappy-ass music
Failstival festival posing as the "Coachella of OC," but failing miserably at delivering good concert vibes or even the actual music acts to the upstanding ticket-fee paying citizens of OC? Check! Agro cops beating a man to death for being in the wrong place (outside a popular Fullerton live music venue, nonetheless) at the wrong time? Check!!
So you see, all things considered, the Doheny Days music festival brought peace, music and some much-needed healing to the OC music scene with a line-up that included the heavy-weight singer/songwriter stylings of Ben Harper, 1990's radio darlings, Cake, uber Rasta offspring Ziggy Marley and last but not least, rock God legends, Weezer -- whose closing performance Sunday night might very well have been one of their best to date! (Did we mention that front man Rivers Cuomo wore a pair of fan-made Weezer tighty-whities over his pants for a large majority of the performance?)
Read on as we count the ways that Doheny Days rocked so hard that we're still basking in its sandy afterglow:
10. Considerate Staff Make for Considerate Concert-goers: This was a two-day festival that gave the option for people who wanted to camp at the beach overnight to do so at the surrounding camp grounds. That being said, patrons were allowed in water bottles and in some cases, baby formula as well. And while the counter-culture aspect of the event warranted a heavy police presence both inside and outside the venue, the vibe we got from the cops was that they were definitely there to protect and serve, as opposed to that other "pummel first and ask questions later" vibe they've been employing as of late.
9. Beer wristbands for a brighter future? At first it seemed a little bleeping lame to have to stand in one line to put money on a wristband and then stand in yet another line to buy booze (or anything else for that matter), but it actually ended up working out well in terms of regulating overall time spent in line for drinks.
8. Family Time: This was an all-day event both days, so if you have kids, don't have a baby sitter and don't mind the kids being around a bunch of hippies and 90's music aficionados, then Doheny Days was a great way to get some quality family time together and teach the kids how to air guitar like a pro!
7. KROQ Booth: Normally radio station booths aren't much to write home about (let alone include in a review for that matter), but we've gotta give props to the Kroq booth at the event for bringing some sick electronic dance beats to the festival for all of the former rave rats to roll to (because you know they're all still rollin' like it's 1998)!
6. G-Love: Love him or hate him, G-Love brought the correct vibe and swanky blues set list to Doheny Days on Saturday afternoon for the hippies to get down to. So much so, that if said vibe and set list had a name, that name would be "Honor and Harmony" (like the song). G-Love and his Special Sauce crew dealt out a full deck of their blues-bar finest to the crowd until the sun went down, which got everyone good and ready to contend with Ben Harper's sweet soul energy as headliner that night.
5. Ziggy Marley: Doing for the crowd on Sunday night what G-Love did for the crowd on Saturday night, reggae fan favorite, Ziggy Marley, brought his set of Rasta feel-good hits out to Doheny Days, which got the crowd all lovey, lively and ready to receive the Weez. Marley's set list included the usual radio fare or "Tomorrow People," and he even managed to work in covers of some of his legendary father's songs, namely, "Is This Love" and "Stir It Up."
4. Cake: Following a super energetic set by radio newbies, the Neon Trees, '90s dance rock champions, Cake, came out and did a 45 minute set that brought us back to the days of studying for midterms with "Friends" on the TV on mute in the background and "Never There" blasting through our headphones. Assuring the crowd that, "If you don't know you have a dark side, then you're the most dangerous one," front man John McCrea lead us through a set list that included mostly classics with a couple of new songs off their latest album, Showroom of Compassion, released back in January.
3. The Venue: Yes, we are ranking the festival venue higher on this list than Cake. Why? Because Doheny State Beach is quite possibly the most gorgeous place to enjoy a concert, or in this case, two-day music festival. Picture the scene: blankets, beach balls aflight, plenty of room to get around, and a pristine stretch of the Pacific coastline just steps from your favorite bands. And if you were lucky enough to get in, the venue boasted a fan-friggin-tabluous VIP section to match!
2. Ben Harper: For those not up on the jam-band circuit, Ben Harper might come off as just another John Mayer or Jack Johnson getting lumped together in the shuffle. And while Harper's music is dope enough to be counted among such talented colleagues as Mayer and Johnson, Haper's special gift of building up the music from a simple strum of his guitar to a panty-soaking orchestral rock crescendo was on so strong Saturday night, that many of OC's jam-band hippies are likely still shuddering in ecstasy from how good he was! Opening his set by playing his Les Paul on his lap (!), Harper gave us a good hour and a half of his time and catalogue that disappointed no one. From the deeply emotional tracks like "Another Lonely Day," to the uplifting "Masterpiece," (which he dedicated to his wife Laura Dern and their children), Harper was on fire because, well, he is fire! Peppering his set with little anecdote interludes including a tangent about what it would be like if he had a reality show, "That'd be saying something," and a little birthday shout out to his pal David Arquette and ol' Davey's "killer calves" (?), Harper simultaneously got everyone off when he let the Led out with a cover of Led Zeppelin's "No Quarter" - so good it was criminal!
1. Weezer: Ok, if you're a Weezer fan and you weren't at Doheny Days to bear witness to their furiously dope headlining act on Sunday night, this review may put you in a jealous, pork and beans-filled rage, in which case, we apologize. If you're not a Weezer fan and are indifferent to reading about what a stoked show they put on last night, there may be something wrong with you. In which case, take two healthy doses of Weezer's "Blue," "Green" and "Pinkerton" albums, and call us in the morning.
Looking every bit the rock-geek heartthrob that he is, Rivers Cuomo started the show in a green checkered shirt, rust-colored 'Member's Only' style jacket and a pair of tighty-whitey underwear that had the band's logo crudely drawn in marker on them pulled over his khakis, which let everyone exactly what time it was - Weezer time, baby! Time to rock out with your, err, beach ball out! None of that dick-swinging Gaga garbage we've been getting over the past couple of years (although, a considerable bit of dick swinging does go on at Weezer shows in general), just a solid hour of vintage Weezer from start to finish.
Playing fan staples like, "Jonas," "Buddy Holly" and "Hash Pipe," Cuomo, Brian Bell and the rest of the boys rocked the hell out of Doheny State Beach, all the while giving fans plenty of photo opps for the all-mighty Facebook upload. And not to be too tied to their own brilliant catalogue, they even threw in a few covers, namely a killer cover of Foster the People's "Pumped Up Kicks" (who said a band with over 15 years under its belt isn't in touch with what all the high school kiddies are listening to today), and a couple of Cars songs (with obligatory shout out to the band's mentor, Ric Ocasek) which included, "You Might Think." All of which was so blissfully fierce that it left the hardcore fans writhing around for more.
And speaking of wanting more, Rivers and the crew did come out for an encore (which included "Beverly Hills,"), but there was a definite need for them to pitch us a little "Greatest Man that Ever Lived" before bailing for the night, especially considering that when all was said and done (including encore and finale) it wasn't even 9pm yet! Although, it is pretty likely that had they gone until 10am the next day, we would have still wanted more. Either way, they came, they Weezed and it was glorious!
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Critic's Bias: I have a more than 15-year-long crush on Rivers Cuomo and it only grows stronger by the day. When-oh-when will he notice me through his geek-hottie glasses and whisk me off to an Ashram in Connecticut where we can peck quietly under the stars and talk about Kiss and which local thrift stores have the softest sweaters? Only time will tell.
The Crowd: Being that weekend line-up was primarily '90s bands with just a few acts from the early 2000's and later, the crowd was pretty much of the 25 and up persuasion, many of whom had their under 18 children in tow.
Overheard in the Crowd:
-Which one is the Weezer, mommy?
-Are you going to take your underwear off for this one? (Brian Bell to Rivers Cuomo)
- Just scan the bracelet and give me a drink! It's not rocket science!
- If this porta-potty's a-rockin', don't come-a-knockin'! (Gladly.)