The second day of our beach weekend began with a quick brunch at Urth Caffe in Laguna, then we were off to Dana Point for Ohana Fest!
I had never really been conscious of Ohana Fest before this year; honestly, my reason for attending the festival was about 99% The Naked and Famous (TNAF). They are my favorite band, and I thought seeing them at a festival might be fun. That's also how Katie and I met - because of the band. My point is, I had basically zero knowledge of Ohana Fest. I've attended a handful of festivals in my life, including 3 Coachellas, so I had a vague, generic idea of how the event might be.
First, I opted not to get the shuttle pass, which would bus festival-goers from a shopping center in San Clemente to Ohana Fest at Doheny State Beach. I am a person who prefers to choose the convenient option, and I thought the shuttle option presented too many potential complications. We gambled with parking upon our arrival to Doheny, but we were able to find a parking because we arrived an hour before gates opened. I was not thrilled by the attendee at the parking booth; she seemed irritated and was not informative whatsoever. She mentioned some parking lots that had space, but failed to tell us there was a shuttle to take us to the festival itself.
PRO TIP: IF YOU PARK ON-SITE, YOU WILL BE DIRECTED TO THE SOUTHERN BEACH LOTS. YES, THEY ARE WALKABLE, BUT I RECOMMEND TAKING THE FREE SHUTTLE THAT IS OFFERED. IT GOES BETWEEN THE PARKING LOTS AND THE FESTIVAL GROUNDS.
Once the festival was open, we leisurely made our way around the grounds. TNAF were not scheduled to play until past 4PM, so we had plenty of time to relax, eat, and enjoy each others' company. There were several food trucks, food stalls, and sponsors giving away freebies. Immediately, I was impressed by its organization and how laid back everything was. I was joined by my TNAF fan friend Katie (who flew in from Texas), and my radio DJ mini-me, Caitlin.
At festivals like Coachella, you have rabid fans fighting each other for the best spots in the pit, social media fiends expending all of their energy trying to craft the perfect Instagram post. At Ohana Fest, the atmosphere was everything but the aforementioned chaos. There were families and couples sitting on beach towels, taking in the sunshine and enjoying the bands playing early in the day. I got the sense that this crowd was genuinely there for the music and to simply spend a day with their loved ones.
We decided it would be smart to eat sooner rather than later, and I had no intention of skipping out on Belly Bombz. I tried them for the first time a few months ago at a pop-up, and I fell in love. I ordered their soy caramel wings and was in heaven. If you're like me and are into the sweet and salty thing, I highly recommend these wings. It was the perfect pick-me-up before our fangirling marathon.
I promised myself some Afters ice cream if I ate a proper lunch (which I did), so I went straight for a scoop of cereal milk ice cream. Rich and nostalgic, cereal milk ice cream pays homage to the milk leftover after you finish a sweet cereal. I have always been a fan of Afters, often visiting their flagship shop in Fountain Valley. With very little effort, I made my Texan friend Katie their newest fan. We sat at some shaded tables to enjoy our frozen treats, and instantly my day improved exponentially as I spotted a member of TNAF, Aaron. He is notoriously the most difficult for me to talk to (not sure if I'm just intimidated by his genius or what), but we had a nice chat with him.
Time was flying by, and we noticed the area in front of the main stage was filling up, so we headed up front to get a spot right up front. There has never been a time where I have been disappointed by TNAF, and this performance was no exception. The band seemed particularly happy, and their chemistry was visible. I could tell they were having fun on stage, and it was contagious!
To me, their music is incredibly unique. Although they're known for their feel-good hit Young Blood, their most recent album Simple Forms delves into the process of recovering from a broken relationship. Its lyrics will hit you right in the feels, bringing you the cathartic closure you never knew you needed. I've followed them for 6 years now, so witnessing the evolution of their sound has been absolutely magical. They are the perfect combination of synth, powerful lyrics and sweeping melodies.
After crying and dancing through TNAF's set, it was Haim time! Haim is composed of three sisters from Los Angeles. They are everything I'd ever hoped for in a "girl band" - relatable lyrics, crazy talent, and no-frills. They are unapologetically authentic; I always get the sense that the image they portray is truly one they mean to present. Not only are there harmonies stunning, but their lyrics are relatable and their melodies are catchy. It was a real treat to be right up front for their set.
When Haim was done, so were we. None of us are fans of Jack Johnson (Nothing against him at all; this is purely a preference thing), so we called it a night early. Katie and Caitlin followed my lead and grabbed some late night Belly Bombz, while I reminisced about our day. We got to chat with some of the band, plus one of LA's newest dark pop darlings, Luna Shadows and we witnessed some amazing musicians after filling our bellies with delicious food. In its entirety, Ohana Fest was a very fun, very calm experience. I would gladly attend next year, and I suggest you all check it out!
If you are so inclined, here is a bit of a visual summary of my two days in Orange County:
Read about part 1 of my weekend here.
Until next time,