Ohana Festival 2023: Recap + Photo Gallery
Photo by Alex Kluft
Eddie Vedder’s annual Ohana Festival took place from September 29th to October 1st for the eighth time (2020 was canceled due to the Covid-19 pandemic) at Doheny State Beach in Dana Point, CA. Past lineups have featured artists such as P!NK, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Stevie Nicks, Pearl Jam, Jack White, Lana Del Rey, The Strokes, and Incubus. The festival features two stages, with around 40 acts. One stage ends, and the next one starts, allowing you to see each act’s full set. Friday’s lineup included Ohana regular Glen Hansard, who is also a member of Vedder’s Earthlings Band, Japanese Breakfast, Father John Misty, and closing acts HAIM and The Killers.
HAIM, comprised of sisters Danielle, Este, and Alana, kicked off their set with the major hit “Now I’m In It” and delivered a performance filled with more hits like “Want You Back,” “Summer Girl,” and “The Wire.” Early in the set, Este played roto toms, while Danielle and Alana, who also used an electronic pad. Danielle also took over the drums for a few songs, sharing a Ludwig kit with Dash. Their set concluded with “The Steps.” HAIM previously played at the third Ohana Fest in 2017. As night falls, the Tiki stage, the smaller of the two, closes, and the final two acts each night play on the Ohana Stage. There’s a 40-minute changeover in between, rather than back-to-back performances on the two stages, as was the case before the final two sets. The Killers closed out the first day with an electrifying set, starting with “Mr. Brightside” and paying tribute to Tom Petty with “The Waiting.” They briefly paused the show due to a medical emergency in the crowd but resumed shortly after. The band delivered major hits like “Human” and “Somebody Told Me” and surprised the audience by bringing out Sammy Hagar to perform Van Halen’s “Why Can’t This Be Love.” The set ended with “When We Were Young.”
Ohana Fest is a rain or shine event, and while it rained during Amos Lee’s set, it cleared up by the time Goose took the stage. The War on Drugs played on the Tiki Stage, and The Chicks gave an incredible performance, including a cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide” and ending with “Goodbye Earl.” Eddie Vedder typically closes out Saturday night, now with his band the Earthlings, featuring producer/guitarist Andrew Watt, guitarist/keyboardist Josh Klinghoffer, Glen Hansard, bassist Chris Chaney, and drummer Chad Smith. For this show, Paul McCartney’s drummer of over 20 years, Abe Laboriel Jr., filled in. The Earthlings’ set included songs like “I’ll Be Waiting” and a cover of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ “Room at the Top.” The 20-song set featured Earthlings, Pearl Jam, and six cover songs. Vedder also humorously referred to the festival as “O-hana” with an Irish twist, alluding to their Irish descent. U2 was mentioned, as was their historic opening shows at the Sphere in Vegas. The set ended with an encore that included U2’s “One,” The Cure’s “Just Like Heaven,” The Pretenders’ “Precious,” and Neil Young’s “Rockin’ in the Free World.” Eddie Vedder shared the news of his friend Chris’s passing due to ALS earlier in the day and played Pearl Jam’s “Just Breathe” solo acoustic in his honor. The band returned to play more covers, including U2’s “One,” The Cure’s “Just Like Heaven,” The Pretenders’ “Precious,” and Neil Young’s “Rockin’ in the Free World.” Sunday concluded with sets from The Pretenders and the Foo Fighters. The Pretenders, one of the greatest female-led rock groups, performed hits like “Back on the Chain Gang” and “I’ll Stand by You.” The Foo Fighters delivered a set of classic songs, including “All My Life,” “The Pretender,” and “No Son of Mine.” They honored Taylor Hawkins with “Aurora” and closed their set with “Everlong.” Advertisement
The festival also featured Josh Freese as their new drummer, who had previously toured with the Offspring and played with Devo, Sting, Sublime with Rome, the Replacements, Weezer, Nine Inch Nails, and Danny Elfman. Grohl jokingly noted that despite all the great singers at the festival, he found himself screaming through each song. The Foo Fighters played a 19-song set and paid tribute to Hawkins with “Aurora.” After the set was briefly paused due to an incident in the crowd, the band played “Best of You” and closed with “Everlong.” Grohl’s daughter Harper Willow joined him on stage for a celebratory moment, and Allison Hawkins was in attendance.