The final day of the 2019 Ohana Music Festival greeted a large sold-out crowd with hot sunny beach weather and a stunningly diverse musical line up. The music began early on day three, just afternoon with a short set by Gretta Ray. The young Australian singer-songwriter came from her hometown, Melbourne, Australia. In 2016 she was the winner of the national Triple J Unearthed radio competition for bands and songwriters, and the 2016 Vanda & Young Songwriting Competition, with her song “Drive.” Her expressive vocals and keyboard skills offered an excellent start to a beautiful day.
Gretta Ray was followed on the small stage by New Englander Henry Jamison, who also played a folksy short set of soothing music. The mood changed decidedly when Los Angeles drummer and multi-instrumentalist Jack Irons took the small stage for a solo performance. The founding drummer of the Chili Peppers, as well as the one-time drummer for Pearl Jam, quickly garnered a large audience. Eddie Vedder beaming a huge smile, watched from backstage as the drummer played frantic jazz-rock solos, accompanied by an electronic soundtrack. Performing in front of a mesmerizing multimedia backdrop, the consummate musician wowed the crowd with incredible musicianship. Few drummers match Iron's musical pedigree with contributions to some of the best rock bands over the last four decades. Vedder paid tribute to his former bandmate offering up his first collaboration of the day midway through Iron's set. Josh Klinghoffer, the current guitarist for The Red Hot Chili Peppers, joined Vedder and Irons for a searing cover of Pink Floyd’s “Shine On You Crazy Diamond.”
East L.A. band Las Cafeteras opened the main stage with an upbeat set of Latino inspired rhythms. The Chicano band fuses spoken word and folk music, with traditional Son Jarocho, Afro-Mexican music, and Zapateado dancing. The high energy set full of infectious rhythms had the crowd dancing in the hot afternoon sun. Over on the small stage, Lewis Capaldi took over switching up the beat. Capaldi is a Scottish singer-songwriter. Capaldi achieved global mainstream success throughout 2019 with his international breakthrough single "Someone You Loved.” The singer-guitarist joined by a keyboard player belted out some pleasant folksy tunes. Between songs, he bantered with the audience showing off his witty humor. “Do you like rock,” he quipped. “Well, you probably won’t want to watch this set then pretty mellow, I think.” “What a nice day. We are just two Scottish boys. We never go out in the sun. Look at us,” he joked, pointing to his pale skin. His pleasant vocals won over an attentive crowd.
One of the best sets of the day came next when Lukas Nelson and The Promise of The Real took the main stage. Lukas, son of Willie Nelson, always puts on a high energy show, leading his southern tinged jam band with crisp vocals and intense lead guitar playing. Nelson sang original songs in line with the environmental theme of the festival. These included “Civilized Hell” and “Turn Off The News.” The latter urges parents to turn off the news and take their kids outside to enjoy nature. Halfway through the set, Eddie Vedder came out for his second collaboration of the day. He sang and jammed on guitar with the band during an explosive cover of Neil Young’s “Throw Your Hatred Down.” The Promise of The Real has been Young’s backing band for several years, so it was a fitting cover. The crowd went wild during the extended jam.
Los Angeles based Mt. Joy took over the small stage next. The five-piece band played some high energy alternative rock. They were followed by Nigerian R&B singer Jacob Banks on the MainStage. He infused a mix of Hip Hop and Soul into and R&B mix. Meanwhile, over on the Story Teller stage, former pro surfer and singer-songwriter Tim Curran was offering up a heartfelt acoustic set, of original songs.
Back on the MainStage, Jennifer Lewis brought a distinctive Las Vegas vibe to Ohana, with a Country music inspired set of Americana music. The former member of Rilo Kiley played a flamboyant set fronting a band of seasoned rockers. The singer and multi-instrumentalist brought the Vegas sizzle with a tight-fitting sequenced outfit and oversized sunglasses. As the sun began to set, it painted Lewis in an orange glow, and the crowd began to swell all about the MainStage.
Los Angeles based band Poolside closed the small stage with a brilliant set of neo-disco music. The “Daytime Disco” tunes had an infectious effect on the audience creating dance fever all about the stage.
As twilight fell, Denver based Nathaniel Rateliff and The Night Sweats played a full set of crowd-pleasing tunes. Rateliff led the band sounding a bit like a southern Gospel preacher, amping the crowd to sing and dance along to the music. The band's mix of blues, gospel, and folk resulted in a perfect blend of Americana music. The bands horn section added a whole new dimension to the music creating a symphony of pop sounds.
But there was no question why most of the most massive crowd to grace Ohana festival had gathered. Many fans with Chili Peppers T-shirts had been wilting in front of the stage since the doors opened just afternoon. Many other late arrivals filled the bleachers to capacity. A performance by the Peppers can be an inconsistent event. Depending on the band's mood and where they are on an extended tour, their energy levels and cohesiveness can be erratic. Luckily for fans at the Ohana Festival, their closing set saw the band at the top of their game. Whether it was because the group isn’t currently touring and was playing a well-rested one-off show; or that it was mainly a hometown show in front of fanatic fans and friends, the result was a phenomenal performance. From the moment the band hit the stage, the energy and excitement was full throttle with the four band members giving it their all. The band opened with hit songs like “Can’t Stop” and “Otherside,” which literally launched many into the crowd into a ballistic euphoria, crowd surfing, and surging towards the stage. The band also played some cover songs relevant to the moment, including Neil Young’s “The Needle and the Damage Done,” and a tribute to the The Cars with “Just What I Needed.” Eddie Vedder joined the band onstage for The Cars tune. Sporting a beaming smile, Vedder sang and danced about the stage, sharing the same euphoria as many in the crowd. It was a spectacular end to one of the most interesting and comfortable music festivals to grace the overpopulated world of music festivals.