Los Angeles

Beachy Tradition: Free Santa Monica Pier Shows

Morris Day & The Time open the multi-Thursday summer favorite.

As much as we try and paint Southern California as a very (very very) large collection of small towns that follow charming small-town-y traditions, we know that even our most small-town-esque to-dos take some planning and foresight.

Keeping that small-town quaint-a-tude, in short, requires some extra effort here.

And a lot of anticipation, of course. One of the biggest small town happenings on the Los Angeles calendar is about to open for its 31st go-around, at the Santa Monica Pier. It's the Twilight Concerts series, which runs each Thursday evening from early-ish July through the Thursday after Labor Day. 

It's pretty picturesque, post card-worthy stuff -- families with blankets, dancing couples, glorious sunsets over foamy waves, the Ferris wheel all lit up -- but here's the big part of the small town favorite: It's free.

Which means, we don't need to tell you but feel as though we should, that a lot of people attend the Twilight Concerts. This shouldn't deter the schedule-smart SoCaler; you just know you have to arrive early, and park in a sensible, easy-to-leave spot, or take public transportation, or stay in a walking-distance hotel (The Shore Hotel has a package on, as do other spots).

As for the acts? They're as glorious as the sunset, as gamut-filling as well, which we want and expect from this respected, genre-inclusive series. Indie rockers Real Estate strum on July 16, ¡Cubanismo! has the Latin grooves on July 23, Sister Nancy brings the reggae and dancehall vibes on Aug. 13, and Jefferson Starship summon that Golden State rock 'n roll vibe on Aug. 27.

And the opener? The amazing Morris Day & The Time. There shall be fine funk and serious soul on the pier on July 9. This is one to arrive way early for, that's for sure.

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What's the close-out concert? That's TBD, but count on someone surprising and wonderful to show up on the roster. As surprising and wonderful as the nine acts, and their talented openers, are now.

Are the Twilight Concerts at Santa Monica Pier our largest little-cozy-city happening? We've got a few annual events that feel as though they could happen on some tight town square somewhere, only with a lot more people arriving a lot earlier to snag a great spot.

It's how we do small town in SoCal, and it's a perfectly fine concession to make for such a fine concert series. 

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