Ohana Festival 2022 Day One at Doheny State Beach in Dana Point, CA

Eddie Vedder’s Ohana Festival kicked off the three-day event with solid performances, capped off with a rock n’ roll queen’s performance.

California has its share of iconic and picturesque music festivals, but none match the intimacy and location that Ohana Festival delivers. Nestled right on Doheny Beach State Park, in Dana Point, festival fans are quite literally on the beach. With a mild climate and those beautiful southern California sunsets, there isn’t much more you could ask for, except for top-notch musical artists and performances which Ohana delivers in spades. Ohana’s intimacy, with approximately 15,000 attendees, stems from its location, the California State Park’s size dictates the festival’s capacity. The park itself is small, and unlike larger festivals, attendees don’t need to trek long distances to get to each stage. In fact, the distance between stages is only a few feet. Ohana only has two performance stages, and they are, quite literally, side by side.

Ohana runs with an efficiency rarely seen at large events, with one band ending their set and the next act starting on the neighboring stage within a couple of minutes. Sometimes the notes from the last band are still hanging in the air when the next band starts up. The only exception is the headline sets in which festival goers get approximately one hour to get drinks and eat before the main course. Fans do not have to make those frustrating choices to see one band over another. With the exception of the spoken word sessions, which happen all day long in the Ohana Cove, on the Storyteller stage. Attendees with enough stamina could possibly see every act on the schedule.  

In the era of high-dollar festival experiences, Ohana offered one more eyebrow-raising amenity and a breath of fresh air for the average fan in attendance. 100 percent of upfront stage real estate is given to the fans in GA, more than likely because of the configuration of the side-by-side stages. VIP attendees who wanted front-of-stage sight lines had to mix it up with GA. But with only 15,000 concertgoers, this was a comfortable proposition for all. 

Each year Eddie Vedder puts in calls to some of the biggest names in music and once again his calls were answered. Each year, Ohana Festival is skillfully curated and Mr. Vedder manages to round up the best and hottest bands to play the annual Ohana Festival. Every artist that took the stage consistently thanked Vedder for the invite, and each performance reflected their excitement to perform at Ohana Festival. With the fans being the ultimate beneficiary of what were truly inspired performances from all the artists on the slate. The festival saw powerful headlining performances from the likes of Stevie Nicks, P!NK, Khruangbin, Brittany Howard, Jack White, St. Vincent, and Vedder with The Earthlings.

This year Ohana Festival took place from September 30th to October 2nd. To kick off the festival on Friday the 30th, in the earliest scheduled slot at 12:30 PM, Vedder joined the young band The Alive to perform Pearl Jam’s “Mind Your Manners.”

With the festival occurring on the fifth anniversary of the late Tom Petty’s passing on October 2, 2017, many of the artists paid tribute to Petty by covering one of his many hit songs and reminiscing on how Tom impacted their careers.

Also taking the stage on Friday were St Paul and The Broken Bones. On a day filled with blues and soul, St Paul and the Broken Bones were a nice entry into the day bringing their gospel-retro-soul sound to Ohana. Near the end of their set, the band took a slight detour from the sound they are known for and covered Bowie’s “Moonage Daydream,” in what was, in fact, a perfect way to feature the band’s horn section.  

Brittany Howard brought her considerable blues guitar skills and her powerful soulful voice to her Ohana debut, touching on a wide range of artistic styles from blues and soul, to rock and funk. Covering tunes from The New Birth, Funkadelic, Nina Simon, and Jackie Wilson’s “(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher,” as well as a heavy dose of material from her solo catalog.

The high-energy band The Revivalists brought their New Orleans fusion of soul, country, R&B, and funk to the Ohana stage, inspiring the crowd to dance to the entire set in the California sunshine. Their hit “Wish I Knew You” brought the dancing beachgoers into full celebratory sing-along participation. 

Khruangbin delivered a most outstanding set. The trio of gunslinging Texans musicians have what can only be described as a super cool vibe when they take to the stage. If their psychedelic soul/rock doesn’t pull you into their presence and get you moving, it’s likely nothing will. Their set is a celebration of instrumental music. Khruangbin takes their audience on a long flight (Khruangbin is the Thai word for airplane) of world music, mixing in sounds and songs from the far corners of Asia and the Middle East, and landing back in the America’s. The band weaves one song into the next only occasionally stopping to give the crowd, and themselves, a brief respite. The most popular song of the night was a medley of familiar songs used in samples of some 2000’s massive hip-hop bangers. Songs that most don’t know the title of or artist but are instantly recognizable upon hearing their familiar refrains – The Message,” “Coffin Nails,” “Genius of Love,” “Simon Says,” “Regulate,” “Nuthin’ but a G Thang,” and “Got Your Money” to name just a few.

To close out the day Friday night, rock n roll royalty Stevie Nicks performed her headline set. In another tribute to the late great Tom Petty, Eddie Vedder teamed up with Nicks on stage to perform “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around” and later covered Petty’s “Free Fallin.'” While it’s true none of us can outrun Father Time, it was clear during her nearly two-hour performance from the constant murmur through the crowd that Nick’s voice has defied the rule. She wound the crowd through her solo career, including her latest single the cover of Buffalo Springfield’s “For What It’s Worth” as well as some of her biggest tunes from her Fleetwood Mac years such as “Stand Back,” “Gold Dust Woman,” “Landslide,” “Edge Of Seventeen,” and closing out the evening with the encore of “Rhiannon.” 

Be sure to check out our coverage of day two and three.

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About George Ortiz 67 Articles
George is Southern California and Big Sky, Montana-based photographer. He grew up in Los Angeles and began shooting professionally in the mid 80s. His words and photos have appeared in local & national publications.