Bikes, bands, skateboards and microbrews invaded San Pedro, Calif. for the first ever Gnarlytown Saturday (June 22), but it was the onshore winds that made things truly gnarly for a few extreme athletes.
The wind delivered a nice breeze for the 12,000 fans attending the event near the Port of Los Angeles, but battered and pushed professional motocross champion Travis Pastrana and his crew of daredevils with the Nitro Circus as they dropped down the marquee 40-foot-high Giganta Ramp for a series of death-defying big air stunts.
By the time the riders returned to the course, Pastrana and his crew of BMX bikers and dirt bike daredevils made adjustments to their pyro heavy routine, which along with pro skater Chris Cole’s Rail Jam, brought an action sports element to the 25,000-person festival headlined by Pennywise and Rancid, with performances by OFF!, Action Bronson and Madball.
Co-produced by John Reese‘s Synery Global Entertainment, Nitro Circus, and Chris Cole, the event is the newest one-day, genre-specific festival for the fast growing SGE, which is producing the Real Street hip hop festival this August in Orange County. Reese’s attention to detail was evident at Gnarlytown — the single-stage festival with a motocross course and skatepark was well designed and seemed to comfortably fit into the waterfront pier space other festival organizers have struggled to tame. Gnarlytown was well run and staffed and the music and action sports sest began and ended on time with an appropriate level of production that felt authentic and well-conceived.
The punk-inspired lineup leaned toward a heavier, more hardcore sound that attracted punk fans of all ages, including hundreds of young fans who helped close the evening with raucous sets led by Pennywise and its notorious guitar player Fletcher, who was an ambassador for Gnarlytown. As the festival scene in Southern California continues to evolve and large multiday festivals start to see some softness in their ticket sales, events like Gnarlytown represent the future of festivals — affordable, family-friendly and lifestyle specific with elements of action sports and live music combined to create something for fans and families seeking new ways to enjoy the region’s summertime weather, wind and all.