Cults, Jagwar Ma, Charles Bradley Headline Santa Monica Pier Concert Series

MotorMouthMedia/ Twilight Concert Series
Jagwar Ma will be at the Santa Monica Pier this summer.

Southern California’s largest free series kicks off Thursday, July 10.

It’s probably the coolest thing you can do on a summer evening in Los Angeles.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Twilight Concert Series on the Santa Monica Pier, which gets underway Thursday, July 10, with Cults and opening act James Supercave at 7 p.m.

Other acts scheduled to perform in the 10-date series every Thursday night include Syrian electro stylist Omar Souleyman (7/31), Aussie synth-popsters Jagwar Ma, fresh off a triumphant Coachella slot (8/7), British Invasion icons The Zombies (8/21), reggae dub legend Lee “Scratch” Perry (8/28) and soul shouter Charles Bradley (9/11).

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Cults’ Brian Oblivion and Madeline Follin are particularly looking forward to playing there. "We are so excited to be coming back to California to play,” they said. “We have spent a lot of time at the Santa Monica Pier and it has always been a dream for us to play the boardwalk."

The series is co-sponsored by the Santa Monica Pier Corporation (SMPC), a nonprofit, public benefit organization dedicated to preserving and enhancing the Pier experience for visitors, and curated by RH&S Concerts, a joint venture between L.A.-based concert promoters Rum & Humble and Spaceland Presents. Media partners for the series include alternative radio station 98.7 FM and Santa Monica NPR standard-bearer KCRW.

Spaceland’s Mitchell Frank, with Liz Garo and Rum & Humble’s Martin Fleischmann, helped book this year’s impressive lineup, and describes his criteria in picking the acts.

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"Every year we sit down with the team at the Pier and come up with a ton of names that are real possibilities, long shots or just total fantasy,” he says. “Our promoting backgrounds cover pretty much every genre under the sun so what starts all over the place gets winnowed down by the team to the basic truths of booking: 1. Are they of the highest quality with recent and future cultural impact? 2. Is their performance dynamic, and will it work well at our spectacular venue? 3. Are they available and willing to play for us? 4. Can we afford them? That's how we fill up 10 weeks of Thursdays with a lineup that makes the audience -- and us -- very, very happy. It's especially important to do that on what will be the Twilight Concert Series' 30th anniversary."

The City of Santa Monica originally built the 1,600-foot-long Municipal Pier in 1909 with a pipeline underneath to run treated sewage out to the ocean, but fortunately, discontinued the process in the 1920s. When constructed, the Pier was the first on the West Coast to use concrete rather than traditional wooden piles.

Charles Looff, a famous carousel carver turned amusement entrepreneur, built a new, side pier with an amusement park along the south side of the Municipal Pier, which opened with much fanfare in 1916. More than 50,000 people attended the July 23, 1924, opening of the La Monica Ballroom, though the Great Depression turned the place into a convention center, lifeguard headquarter and, for a short period, the City Jail in the 1930s. In 1941, the Pier’s iconic blue neon “Santa Monica Yacht Harbor” sign went up. On August 5, 1948, TV station KTLA broadcast the popular weekly show The Hoffman Hayride, featuring Spade Cooley, the “King of Western Swing,” live from the La Monica Ballroom on the Pier. In the '60s, artists and activists including Tom Hayden, Jane Fonda, Charles Bukowski and Joan Baez occupied apartments along the once-seedy Pier-side community. A massive restoration that began in 1987 and was completed in 1990 included improved concrete pilings and fishing docks, as well as a classic wooden deck housing an amusement park, the first since 1930.

The complete lineup:

July 10: Cults w/ James Supercave
July 17: Yuna w/ King
July 24: Cayucas & Papa
July 31: Omar Souleyman
August 7: Jagwar Ma
August 14: La Santa Cecilia w/ Sergio Mendoza
August 21: The Zombies w/ Mystic Braves
August 28: Lee “Scratch” Perry w/ Mexico 68
September 4: TBA
September 11: Charles Bradley w/ King James & the Special Men