TVD Live Shots: Sammy Hagar’s High Tide Beach Party & Car Show, 10/6

HUNTINGTON BEACH, CA | Reading some of the reviews of Sammy Hagar’s High Tide Beach Party & Car Show, one might get the impression that Saturday’s all-day festival might have fallen a bit short of expectations. Well, we were on site wire to wire and can unequivocally say that aside from a few “opening day” challenges that any new event might encounter, this beach bash kicked some major ass. Food was solid, drinks were plentiful, and this year’s musical lineup was simply out of this world.

As you might expect, anything that Sammy Hagar touches turns to gold—and this event was no exception. Opening acts such as Sir Please, Drew Hagar, the Dead Mermaids Feat. Green Day’s Tre Cool, and Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers helped elevate a growing crowd that admittedly had some challenges getting into the seaside venue. Each of their sets were solid and all played with a reckless abandon that resonated with fans attending from all around the world. Add some of Hagar and partner Adam Levine’s Santo Mezquila, and party-goers took it to a whole level on sundrenched Huntington State Beach.

Next up was Orange County’s favorite Ska-Punk band, Reel Big Fish. This six-piece band from Los Alamitos, CA immediately got the crowd off their feet and dancing to the beat to hits like “Everyone Else is an Asshole,” “She Has a Girlfriend Now,” and “Sell Out.” Unfortunately for those in attendance, their typical 18+ songs was trimmed down significantly due to time constraints. However, Aaron Barrett and company smashed their 11-song set in fine fashion and left little doubt as to why this band was chosen by Sammy Hagar to represent Orange County at this year’s inaugural festival.

After a brief intermission to recognize this year’s car show awards winners, legendary REO Speedwagon took center stage and floored a capacity crowd with 12 classics that spanned their illustrious 50+ year career in rock and roll. Kevin Cronin’s vocal prowess was on display and in full-force as he hypnotized beachgoers with hits such as “Can’t Fight This Feeling,” “Take It on The Run,” and “Keep on Loving You.”

And just when you though it couldn’t get any better, Eddie Money and his daughter Jesse joined REO on stage for his signature classic, “Two Tickets to Paradise.” Man, this took their set to a whole new level as the sun was just beginning to set. REO closed their performance with “Roll with the Changes” off 1977’s You Can Tune a Piano, but You Can’t Tuna Fish (one of my favorite pieces of vinyl) and they destroyed it.  Perfect way to end an incredible performance by one of the most iconic bands in rock and roll history.

And now, on to the main attraction, Sammy Hagar. As the clock struck “6:55” it was time to roll as radio personality and rock aficionado Eddie Trunk introduced Sammy Hagar to the 13,000+ in attendance Saturday evening. As house lights dimmed, the now capacity crowd went ballistic as Sammy, along with bandmates Vic Johnson, Jason Bonham, and Michael Anthony—also known as The Circle—took the stage and launched into the Standing Hampton classic, “One Way to Rock.” You’d never know that Hagar is 70 years old by the way he owned that stage on Saturday evening.  His energy was reminiscent of a thirty-something as he ran around the stage and vocally crushed songs like Montrose’s “Rock Candy,” Van Halen’s “Right Now,” and “Mas Mezquila” (formally known as “Mas Tequila”).  This was shaping up to be a show for the ages.

And as promised, Sammy brought out several special guests during his set that took a crowd peaking at “10” to an “11” in seconds flat. Vince Neil was up first and killed a few of Motley Crue’s finest—“Kickstart My Heart” and “Wild Side.” It was great to see Vince back on stage doing what he does best, and with a smile from ear to ear, you knew he was loving it too. Along with The Circle, Vince brought out REO’s Kevin Cronin and Dave Amato to jam with him as he wrapped up his special appearance with 1987’s “Girls, Girls, Girls.” The crowd sang along with Neil the entire song with hugs for all at the end of this one.

Joe Satriani then joined The Circle on stage and fired up one of my all-time favorite guitar instrumentals, “Surfing with the Alien.” Satriani’s ability to shred his signature Ibanez is what dreams are made of, and my dreams came true on Saturday night. Hagar then reappeared on stage and joined him along with the rest of The Circle for a three-song Chickenfoot reunion (minus Chad Smith). Great to hear these songs again and hope that we hear more from this band down the road.

Hagar’s set wrapped up with an encore with a cover of Led Zeppelin’s masterpiece, “Rock N’ Roll.” Jason Bonham led the way on this one and absolutely crushed it. From start to finish, this once-in-a-lifetime set by Hagar and company was certainly special and put an exclamation point on his First Annual High Tide Beach Party & Car Show. It was “bucket-list” type of experience for sure and I look forward to next year’s installment on October 5 and 6. Who’s coming with me?





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