Stadium Concert Sells Out for Palisades Fourth of July

By Laura Carr
Palisades News Intern

The football field at Palisades High School’s Stadium-by-the-Sea steadily filled with people as the sun began its descent on July 4, three hours before the annual fireworks show was even slated to begin.

This was because of the ninth annual Palisades Rocks the Fourth concert, which featured a mix of professional and amateur music talent.

Photo: Virginia Bustamante Skolnik

Photo: Virginia Bustamante Skolnik

According to the concert’s website (palisadesrocksthefourth.org), the pre-fireworks concert, which started in 2008, draws an audience of more than 7,000 people each year, and proceeds go to local organizations. In past years, performers have included the English Beat, Rocky Dawuni and the Westside Troubadours.

This year, the headlining act was the Los Angeles-based underground garage band We Are The West. On their website, the group describes themselves as “a convergence of sound and space both rare and compelling” that has made a name for itself over the past three years with their “intimate and hauntingly beautiful songs, and their uniquely organic approach to performance.”

Emile Millar, Adam Topol, Ethan Phillips, the 2016 Palisades All Stars, Palisades High’s Concert Band, Cohort and Trinity Rose also performed at the concert. Concert organizer Keith Turner said, “One of our goals was to feature the best local talent and if the group doesn’t have that many hits, then they’ll play some covers, and then some of their own music that’s appropriate for the day. I really liked the fact that Brett Hool [of We Are The West] was our first headliner from the Palisades.” The concert was in full swing around 6 p.m., as toddlers played on Palisades High’s blue track and adults lounged on the football field, enjoying the music.

“I’ve been coming here for the past couple years,” Malibu resident Ali Heric said. “I really like it because it’s a family-like atmosphere. There’s a variety of different types of entertainment, lots of food, lots of people and great fireworks.”

Concertgoers Gina Triola of Studio City and Jenna Kehrli of Santa Monica were impressed by the performances from the amateur talent. “The students and teachers, that was excellent. We were so impressed by the quality. We were really impressed, especially by [Trinity Rose] who sang the national anthem. Someone needs to get her a recording contract.”

In the parking lot, an eclectic mix of food trucks was set up. Many people flocked toward Made in Brooklyn NY for pizza, while others enjoyed various cuisines from the 13 other food trucks present.

At 7:10 p.m., the music switched to the “professional talent.” The first group to perform, Emile Millar, Adam Topol and Ethan Phillips, informed the audience that it was their seventeenth show. The group’s mellow music made it easy for the audience to sit back and enjoy the intimate atmosphere.

Palisadian Sam Lagana said, “Each year, we use this as a platform to just relax and chill out. We’re excited to be with our friends in an environment where we can just enjoy and appreciate the talents of other people and the music. Each year presents itself in a unique way. It really gives it a nice close to a fantastic day in the Palisades.”

At 8 p.m., the stadium lights turned on and We Are The West came onstage to the sound of ominous drumbeats. Bubbles floated around the stadium from bubble machines purchased at the parade, and audience members began to dance to the band’s music.

Palisadian Johann Horn said,“Our group of 27 family and friends all really loved the performance that We Are The West put on for the Palisades Rocks the Fourth. As long- term residents of the Palisades, we were all duly impressed by their artistry and inspired performance. It was truly a Fourth that will remain forever etched in our collective loving memories of this wonderful slice of heaven that we know as Pacific Palisades: where the mountains meet the sea.”

The fireworks were preceded by a salute to the veterans in attendance, with Lee Greenwood’s “Proud to Be An American” playing in the background. A rousing rendition of “This Land is Our Land” followed, with humorous added lyrics from Honorary Mayor Kevin Nealon.

The night closed on an exciting note, with a fabulous fireworks display courtesy of Pyro Spectaculars.

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