SM PIER — City officials got what they were hoping for in the first installation of this year’s Twilight Concert Series Thursday night.
The indie-rock duo Cults played to an estimated 15,000 to 20,000 calm attendees in kicking off the 30th year of the iconic free concerts at the Santa Monica Pier.
Earlier this year City Council voted to tone the events down and beef security up — the result of a recommendation from law enforcement officials, who say the shows were becoming unruly and a threat to public safety.
City officials estimated that up to 30,000 people showed up for last year’s Jimmy Cliff concert.
“The event was uneventful and successful from a public safety perspective,” said Rudy Camerana, a spokesperson for the Santa Monica Police Department. “There was an emphasis on providing safety and educating attendees about local ordinances and regulations (No drinking, no glass/ bottles on the beach, no smoking, etc).”
Concert organizers pushed for a more balanced lineup of performers this year, cutting back on the acts that would draw huge crowds but also avoiding very small acts.
In an attempt to disincentivize fans from gathering on the beach, council voted to remove the beach-facing jumbotron, a move that angered some concertgoers.
Council did opt to keep the beach-facing speakers.
“We received positive as well as constructive feedback from members of the community,” Camerana said. “The lessons learned will help us improve our delivery of services and apply best practices to future events.”
The police department, which had a larger presence than in years past Thursday night, has been tasked with addressing ancillary traffic circulation issues after the event.
Pier Administrator Jay Farrand said they’d reworked the layout, creating more space on the pier deck to encourage viewers to choose the pier over the beach.
“Seemed like a solid kick-off,” Farrand said. “The pier deck was active and the food vendors really stepped it up this year. The sound needs to be tweaked next week so everyone has a better experience, but that shouldn’t be hard. We’re adjusting to the new set up but I think it was a great start to the summer.”
James Supercave, an L.A.-based indie pop quintet, opened the show at around 7 p.m., setting the stage for Brian Oblivion and Madeline Follin, the members of Cults.
The 10-week concert series is held every Thursday from 7 to 10 p.m. on the Santa Monica Pier. Next week, Malaysian singer-songwriter, Yuna, will grace the stage. She has nine Malaysian Grammy nominations. Her song “Live Your Life” was produced by Pharrell.

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