Oh hey, so if I asked you about the free music festival taking place at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront this Saturday, chances are you might roll your eyes and start to guess who they’re planning on wheeling out of the Rock and Roll Retirement Home to prop up for tourists to sing along with through nauseatingly nostalgic hits.
And while I have no doubt that Billy Idol is out there somewhere slathering on sunscreen for a white wedding this weekend, the event I’m stoked on is one that is charging hard against Virginia Beach’s current status as the cultural equivalent of a shopping mall with sand.
Your gold key to unlocking one of the best music lineups of the summer is Logstradamus Surf and Music Festival, which is bringing together a bevy of solid local and regional acts to a small homemade stage at 1st Street Beach, and later that evening to The Blind at Back Bay Brewery.
What started out as an idea between longtime buds Chase Pittman and Travis Kesler to host a single-fin surf contest wherein participants dress in semiformal attire (i.e. ties and blazers and whatever awesomely awkward fanciness a trip to the thrift store may inspire) has since turned into an annual reunion for a growing community of friendly freaks and weirdos who come together and compete with their “wizardly maneuvers” in the water, while enjoying thoughtfully curated vibes on the beach. All this is brought together year after year by a leaderless team of festival volunteers and organizers who end up donating whatever profit they make to a local charity.
Since the early days of Logstradamus, there has been some sort of musical element to the event, as Pittman recently described to me the efforts he made in 2013 to track down a Mariachi band that would be willing to play on the beach for the entire duration of the all-day festival. Now in its fifth year, the celebration of music appears to have become as much a focus as the surf contest. Pittman credits Elliott Malvas (You’re Jovian) and Justin Frye (PC Worship) for the work they put in to organize this year’s lineup, which includes practically all of Coastal Virginia’s best psych and surf rock acts like Ladada, Old Baby, and Wandcarver. Also performing this year will be Sunwatchers, a Brooklyn band that came through Norfolk this past winter and left an impression on a small Tuesday night audience at 37th and Zen, as well as the mask-wearing finger-tapping drum-looping shaman from Richmond known as Gull, who’s been garnering local favor since playing Work|Release’s grand opening last year and more recently the MOCA for Hi-Fructose’s Turn the Page art exhibit opening.
One gem in the rough that I’m especially looking forward to is local hip hop artist Opal. After popping up all over Norfolk and teasing audiences with one or two songs at a time during producer Fake Uzumi’s DJ sets, Opal has finally begun releasing full-fledged bangers over the past few months via soundcloud and will no doubt be lighting up the stage with a truly unique performance.
Later in the evening the party continues at Logstradamus’ unofficial home base, The Blind at Back Bay Brewery, a magical little music venue that feels like the weathered attic of a sturdy old beach house that’s survived many a hurricane season. If you have not experienced live music yet at The Blind, Saturday night will be the perfect inauguration when Norfolk’s Mas Y Mas kick things off for the NYC noise rock group Guerilla Toss and later Harrisonburg doom metal outfit Valkyrie. The sounds will get heavy and chaotic at times, but the good feels acquired from a day spent in the sun will surely be in abundance and the house will undoubtedly be rockin’.
And while the music this year at Logstradamus will be epic, don’t count out the surfing. Reports show 4-5 foot waves with a mellow forecast of 76 degrees and cloudy. For those interested in entering the surf contest, early registration begins Friday night at 5PM with a Logstradamus kick-off BBQ in the alley behind WRV surf shop. Past prizes for the surf contest have included custom surfboards and even a Logstradamus-decorated 1988 Toyota Tacoma pickup truck. This year is no different as 2016’s master shredder will walk away with a homemade musical instrument invented specifically for the festival by artist and composer Pat Spadine of Ashcan Orchestra.
In addition, a new creative contest has been added to this year’s festivities called Helter Shelter, wherein a $1000 prize will be awarded to a person or team who constructs the best beach dwelling on a designated 15’ by 15’ plot of beach. It can be made with whatever materials participants are willing to bring in and carry out and will be judged by an architect, a child, and an artist. The plots will be distributed on a first-come first-serve basis and once all the shelters are constructed they will form the borders of the festival.
Attendance to the daytime festivities on the beach is completely free, while participation in the surfing contest and the afterparty at The Blind each have a small cost. The chance to experience something so fun and pure as an intimate surf and music festival on the beach will be well worth the effort, and I can almost surely guarantee there will be no cheesy cover songs, no one trying to sell you timeshares, and no lack of free artistic expression.
Check out the full music lineup and schedule of events here.
And the Facebook event page here.