We bought the Live Nation Festival Passport's back in May, and one of the festivals included is the new Ohana Festival in Dana Point, CA. Put on my Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder it let's patrons soak in the sun on the beach while enjoying some music. Given we are in San Diego, only a short drive away, and the festival was essentially free to attend, we decided to check it out. Here was the good and the bad from our experience at Ohana Festival 2017.
I'm generally not the type who goes to festivals for headliners, but we went to Ohana for Eddie Vedder and he did not disappoint. He was charismatic, funny and sounded amazing. Of all the artists we saw at Ohana there was no question of who was the best. I'm always impressed when an artists can go up there alone with no band or any support and just be entertaining as hell. Eddie Vedder went between his own songs and covers, as well as from piano to guitar to ukulele. It was a beautiful set to close out the night.
Make no mistake about it, Ohana Festival is the most overpriced music festival I have ever seen. First, the tickets / wristbands themselves are $335 for a lineup that has roughly 30 artists. It is more expensive than Austin City Limits, Voodoo Music Festival, Bonnaroo (on presale) and other festivals with much larger and more diverse lineups. I understand you are paying for the location at Ohana, but this festival is expensive.
That said, it's not just the passes that are expensive - all the food and drinks inside are more pricey than most festivals as well. Water is $5 or $6 at all the venodrs, Spicy Pie is $8 while at other festivals it is $5 or $6, and on - everything is just slightly more expensive at Ohana. I'm sure they get away with it as they are in a pretty affluent area, but just go knowing you are going to spend some money.
Ohana takes place at Doheny State Beach, which is absolutely beautiful. You can both see a show and have a drink with your feet in the sand or swining in a hammock. It is unequivocally one of the nicest venues I have ever been to for a music festival. As Eddie Vedder said "if this isn't nice, what is?". I fully agree.
This was probably the worst festival I have ever been to for people cutting and forcing their way to the front. The problem with Ohana is there is really only two stages: Ohana (the main stage) and a small Tiki Stage, which are adjacent to each other. By the evening there is only music going on at one stage so the crowds get pretty packed early. As Eddie Vedder approached it was nonstop of people pushing and forcing their way to the front. Of course everyone was sloppy drunk so as they did this they would step on your feet and dump their beer all over you. This was pretty frustrating for people who camped out all day for a good spot to Eddie Vedder: I understand trying to get close but when you are shoving you way through people it's poor etiquette. Ohana is certainly not a festival you attend for good vibes or a community feel
We opted for the official Ohana Shuttle from the Outlets at San Clemente, and it could not have been easier. There were signs everywhere and the shuttle ran on time and efficiently. I definitely would recommend to anyone who was debating how to get to Ohana in the future to consider the shuttle: it was terrific.
If you go to Ohana be sure to bring cash as the majority of vendors do not accept card. This is usually not a big deal if it's well known, but Ohana didn't make this known beforehand. Clearly Ohana knew this would be an issue as there were ATM machines everywhere, moreso than other festivals. Next time just post on your website most places will be cash only and everyone will be happier.
Free Kind Bars. Free Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream. Free Arcade. Free Krave Beef Jerky. Ohana had a lot of vendors giving out free tasters, which was a nice way to start the day. It was one of the better festivals we have attended for free swag.
As I mentioned there were only two stages and they were right next to each other. Most festivals space out their stages to help disperse the crowd. Ohana didn't do this and it made the crowd and navigating through it challenging to say the least. I really think the festival could improve by just separating these stages a bit.
Ultimately I wouldn't attend Ohana Festival again unless Live Nation does their festival passport again and Ohana is included, unless I really loved the lineup. $335 is way, way, way too much money for this festival. Unless the lineup drastically improved I just cannot justify the cost for that lineup. It's not that Ohana is bad, it's just drastically overpriced.