Cults (Courtesy photo)
Cults (Courtesy photo)

SM PIER — Thousands of people will gather on and around the Santa Monica Pier Thursday night to watch the indie-rock band Cults kick off the city’s iconic free summer concert series.

The Twilight Concert Series starts its 30th year Thursday at 7 p.m.

This year’s series, which will take place over the next 10 Thursdays, is notable because public officials want it toned down. The event was getting too popular, they said, and causing a public safety hazard.

At last year’s Jimmy Cliff concert, city officials estimated that up to 30,000 people attended, with most of them on the beach.

In January, council voted to remove a jumbotron screen that faced the beach. It contributed to the hard-to-manage beach turnouts, they said.

They did decide to keep the beach speakers, despite requests from public safety officials to unplug them.

Council also agreed to pay more for a boosted police and fire presence.

In an attempt to fend off unruly turnouts, concert organizers avoided inviting very large acts. They also cut out the very small acts, resulting in a more balanced lineup.

Cults, a New York-based duo, is a great match for a summer night on a warm beach, concert organizers said.

Brian Oblivion and Madeline Follin have been lauded critically for their dreamy and dark, vintage sound.

James Supercave, an L.A.-based indie pop quintet, will open the show.

“I’m not expecting huge crowds this Thursday, but you never know,” said Pier Administrator Jay Farrand. “Coming off a long holiday weekend is always a little slow, people are groggy, getting back into their routines. But Cults is a great band, low-key and hummable, so if the weather stays nice it should be a sweet first show, but nothing crazy.”

The Santa Monica Police Department announced earlier this month that they will be enforcing prohibitions against alcohol, glass bottles, and smoking on the beach.

In another attempt to avoid beach overflow, concert organizers rearranged layout.

“The venue has expanded, so there is more space on the deck to spread out this year, plus some amazing food vendors including The Albright and Al Mare, the newest restaurants on the pier,” Farrand said. “There will be speakers facing the beach per usual, and since the stage is a bit further back this year, beach goers will actually be able to see it better than in previous years. If they want to get a closer look or are pumped about a given band, there will also be plenty of room on the pier deck with the expanded venue.”

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