By Aleah Antonio and Jackie Sedley

Photos by Joshua Nicoloro and Kelly Wood

Santa Monica’s annual free concert series Twilight on the Pier kicked off its 35th year on August 21, 2019. Former Vampire Weekend member Rostam headlined the opening night on the Santa Monica Pier, along with musical artists Dijon and Jen Awad.

This year, the festival is embracing the theme “Local Meets Global,” bringing in artists who reside in different countries or are inspired from other countries to create the diverse musical stylings that they do. While tonight’s kickoff included a mix of alternative pop, R&B and soul musicians, each week thereafter encompasses sounds from around the world with the themes of “Latin Wave,” “Middle East Beats,” “Island Tide,” “Aussie Splash,” and “Japanese Vibes”.

Over the past two years, the Twilight concert series has experienced a rebranding of sorts, as the longstanding format of the concerts began to pose significant overcrowding and public safety concerns.

In years prior, the event would overflow from the pier onto the beaches, which generated an overwhelming turnout and a less secure event space that could not be fully safeguarded. As a result, this year’s concert took place solely along the pier, with two musical stages, and a comedy stage. Attendees were able to walk in-between stages, vendor booths and the pier’s other attractions throughout the night.

“This is wild…it’s like an actual festival now,” said Los Angeles native Pasha Vafaee. “They have more than one stage now, and all the seating areas, it’s pretty cool.”

This year’s opening night garnered an audience much smaller in scale compared to years prior, and this is thought to be attributed to the changes made by the Santa Monica City Council in late 2017. These changes included re-orienting the stages so that audiences are more inclined to stay on the pier, setting a limit on the total number of performances, and changing the series’ dates from summer to fall.

With changes to the festival’s set-up and operation came a more intimate and relaxed energy. While those looking for a more energized and crowded concert atmosphere may have chosen to stay home this time around, the changes in orientation seemed to strike a chord with those who are more personally inclined toward less jam-packed events.

“There was definitely a lot more people in the past, like the beach would get pretty packed,” said fourth-year attendee Angel Morales. “Especially when Khalid came, that thing was pretty hectic…but this year is a lot better.”

Twilight on the Pier continues next Wednesday August 28, 2019, and every following Wednesday through September 25, 2019 from 7-11pm on the Santa Monica Pier.

This story was produced as part of a partnership between the SMC Corsair student newspaper and the Santa Monica Daily Press.

Join the Conversation


  1. There are NO portable toilets for those out on the beach, which had to be at least 1,000 people.

  2. They ruined this event. No fireworks. no summer concerts. I attend free summer concerts all over this area and, no question about it, Santa Monica over-policed this event. Looks like another easy city over-time opportunity to me. Over the years, how many arrests were conducted. I would guess, a handful. The wine and cheese crown on the beach was not a threat to the city. Do we really hate our visitors, or does it just seem that way?

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