Ohana Festival 2019 kicked off with a bang today, Friday, September 27 on the golden coast of Doheny State Beach in Southern California. On an overcast day which wasn’t exactly cold, the typical California sun was nowhere in sight, dark clouds loomed overhead and rain seemed likely…but luckily didn’t happen. The various artists who took to the stage were able to shine their own light and allure fans.
Ohana Fest has a major chill vibe and thousands of locals and fans were hyped to cruise around getting tacos, lemonade, nachos and more. The locals in Orange County are born and raised on the beach, so walking through crowds, you see the classic bleach blonde hair and surfer style. The crowd got rowdy but not rough, most of the fans using their phones to video songs or take pictures of each other.
One of the performers, Tash Sultana is an Australian singer/songwriter who literally blew fans away with her insane talent and magnetic energy. She performed songs, “Mystik”, “Free Mind”, “Notion” and “Jungle” which were hypnotic and drawn out. Sultana is described as a “one-person band” and has been playing guitar from the age of three. She switches off between various instruments mid-song, going from a guitar solo to heavy bass, electric violin, flute and more. Her vibrant, soulful, strong vocals and guitar are in harmony like no other. There were long interludes in between guitar rifts and her winding, long and drawn out vocals were mastered in a unique and powerful fashion. The crowd was somewhat quiet when she finished as they were in such awe they didn’t know what to do. She seems very much in touch with her musical gift.
Sultana has been described as someone who isn’t just playing a song, but creating it in the moment and making something new each time she picks up her guitar. Tash’s talent feels like pure magic. She came out and said, “How the f*@!#’s it going?” The fans cheered and she laughed and said, “Thanks very much, for those who don’t know me – I’m Tash Sultana, people think I’m a DJ but I’m not a DJ. It feels very chill out here.”
The Strokes were also electric tonight and whether these New Yorkers really knew what a fan base they have in SoCal, they probably realized it a little more this evening. There were some die-hard Strokes fans in the crowd who were stoked when they came out. Groups of men and women who just couldn’t really contain themselves started dancing and singing along to many favorites. The Strokes lead singer, Julian Casablancas is very entertaining with his hipster haircut, shaved sides and stylish clothes. The band includes guitarists Nick Valensi and Albert Hammond Jr., bassist Nikolai Fraiture, and drummer Fabrizio Moretti. They played some of their hits including “Someday”, “Last Nite” and “Reptilia” which have brought them much acclaim through the years.
One of the classic moments of the evening was Eddie Vedder from Pearl Jam, stepping out during The Strokes’ main set. He sang, “Hard To Imagine” which was poetic, beautiful and when closing the song, The Strokes came right out and began jamming again. Not before the lead singer, Julian Casablancas joked that Eddie Vedder played with The Doors and then said, “Wait, don’t go. I have so many questions.” Shortly after, Vedder joined The Strokes again but this time in duet with them singing “Juicebox” which was nothing short of brilliant. The Strokes later sang “Reptilia” which got the crowd revved up and also performed “Someday.”
At the Ohana festival, there are two stages, the Ohana Stage where artists like The Strokes, LP, Tash Sultana, Devendra Banhart and Fontaines D.C. were featured. On the Tiki Stage, White Reaper, Sunflower Bean, Dustin Kensrue, Jesse Jo Stark and L.A. Witch perform for fans.
Photos by Stephen Hoffmeister