Queen Mary, Long Beach, CA
Although there was once a time when we didn’t really cover any events happening over there, over the past several years, Westcoaster has developed quite the nice relationship with the Queen Mary to promote and attend some of their fantastic events put on throughout the year. It all started nearly a decade ago, when the Queen Mary made the decision to rechristen their long-overlooked Halloween event, Shipwrecked, into the now iconic Dark Harbor haunted attraction. At the time, Westcoaster’s Halloween coverage was restricted to Knott’s Scary Farm and Halloween Horror Nights. But on the spirit of expanding horizons, I reached out to the public relations of Queen Mary to inquire if Westcoaster could help cover and promote the event.
Thus began a networking that has continued to this very day, and over that time, the Queen Mary has expanded its attractions beyond its cruise ship museum and hotel amenities and its spooky October festivities. Through the past few years, the Queen Mary has also hosted Christmas events like Chill, magic events like the current Illusions of the Passed, and even an expanding series of music festivals and shows put on at the events park just outside of the Queen Mary grounds. It’s been pretty cool to see the place become more than just a historical landmark, but also a multimedia tourist attraction in its own right.
The music portion of the above is what we’re here to talk about today, though. Through a partnership with Goldenvoice, the Queen Mary has been putting on a series of gigs over the past couple of years, from recurring events like ALT 98.7’s Summer Camp to the One Love Cali Reggae Festival, to name a pair. And despite the ever-growing Southern California music festival scene, where a new festival or festival concept seems to pop up monthly, the music productions have been a hit for Queen Mary parent company, Urban Commons, and Goldenvoice, bringing in increased hotel revenue, local tourism, and media exposure.
The latest and perhaps most exciting yet is the Just Like Heaven Festival, announced just last month and already so successful that its original Saturday, May 4th date sold out within a day of ticket sales. For a first-time festival, this would already be a great accomplishment, but Just Like Heaven then went and did something that, to my experience, is unprecedented: add a second and nearly identical day a day earlier, on Friday, May 3rd (Louis XIV will play Friday but not Saturday). And the demand has been so high that this second (and earlier) day is also near sold-out!
Although it has absolutely nothing to do with The Cure (there will not be any secret cameo by the legendary British rock band), Just Like Heaven is nonetheless built heavily upon nostalgia for the mid-2000s alternative and indie rock scene. Headlined by big names like Phoenix, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, MGMT, and Beach House, the festival also boasts indie darlings like Passion Pit, Grizzly Bear, Miike Snow, the reformed Rapture, The Faint, She Wants Revenge, Tokyo Police Club, and more.
Unlike a lot of recent festival newcomers in the Southern California area, this will be a true festival with multiple stages—not just a single line of artists rotating through the same stage. So that means as stacked as the line-up is, in Goldenvoice festival style (or at least from my Coachella experience), there will be conflicts. All the bands announced will play each day, and that will require music fans to make choices and split sets. And also unlike a lot of recent festivals (including gigs we’ve covered like Sabroso and Back to the Beach), it is a pure music festival, not music + food or art or art or other attraction (not that there’s anything wrong with the hybrid fests we’ve seen popping up recently; we love those too). But it’s Southern California, so there’s a pretty solid bet that nice eats and drinks will also be present.
One of the potentially positive details I’ve noticed about Just Like Heaven is that parking will be off-site, with free shuttles providing transport to the actual events park. This may mean requiring extra planning and time to arrive, but given the past struggles we’ve seen with on-site parking at Queen Mary events (Dark Harbor has been a frequent offender, despite the otherwise thrilling quality of its haunts), it’s probably better to have guests park in the much better infrastructure-equipped Downtown Long Beach area, with its multiple carports, than to leave the nearly 15,000 expected fans to try to duke it out for the limited spots on the actual peninsula, where parking has long been scarce.
As I mentioned earlier, tickets are still available (as of this writing) for the Friday, May 3rd festival date. Saturday, May 4th, is sold out. The remaining GA Passes are $170 a pop—admittedly steep, but there is a payment plan available. This is a pretty ridiculous line-up, and if you’re a fan of alternative music and indie rock, you’re not going to want to miss out. This May, the Queen Mary is going to feel a bit… Just Like Heaven.
(No, I will not apologize for that low hanging fruit of a pun.)
Architect. Photographer. Disney nerd. Haunt enthusiast. Travel bugged. Concert fiend. Asian.