Memorial Day Weekend is a marker of many things, including the reopening of Montauk’s see-and-be-seen hotel/musical venue The Surf Lodge. On most MDWs, the sunset pours a dreamy warm light over The Surf Lodges’s deck as the musical guest pumps feel-good vibes out onto the jam-packed scene. But this year, with traditional Memorial Day weekend programming off the table for obvious reason, The Surf Lodge founder Jayma Cardoso and her dedicated team were still determined to make the first party of the summer just as unforgettable as the last. Cardoso partnered with the Governor’s Ball group and the brains behind Bumble to curate an online concert that could be enjoyed virtually.
“For us, it’s a big deal,” Cardoso explained over the phone, “And I know that for our entire team, it’s the light at the end of the tunnel.” And when Cardoso posted the save the date poster to social media, which confirmed epic headliners like Rüfüs Du Sol, Bob Moses, Sofi Tukker, and Snoop Dog aka DJ Snoopadelic, The Sun Still Sets festival quickly became a big deal for everyone.
Even though the Surf Lodge staff and regulars couldn’t physically be together, Cardoso made sure “everyone” was there in spirit—out on the empty deck, she arranged lifesize cardboard cutouts of Surf Lodge regulars (Christie Brinkley, John Legend and more). It appeared a full house. “We wanted to safely engage with everyone that makes it feel as close as possible,” Cardoso explained.
The online concert began promptly at 7:00 pm. The livestream opened with footage of surfers and their families clapping for essential workers out in Malibu and then in Montauk. “I always get a sense of family vibe when we do stuff with the Surf Lodge,” Tucker Halpern, half of the duo Sofi Tukker, mused over the phone. “It’s definitely intimate, and I think there’s a bit more of a conversation when you can look absolutely everybody in the eye in the audience,” Sophie Hawley-Weld, Halpern’s counterpart, continued. And even though the duo wasn’t able to lock eyes with their diehard fans during this show, all eyes (and ears) were on them during their virtual DJ-set.
Staged at their new house in Miami, Sofi Tukker showed off their livestreaming skills, which they’ve been perfecting daily since the beginning of March. Yesterday marked their 73rd day in a row playing a virtual set on Instagram. “I feel like we’re sharing more of who we really are because we’ve made ourselves so visible every day,” Hawley-Weld noted. “I think that people are probably getting to know us in a way that is much harder to get to know if you only see us live once a year, which is what we’re normally able to do when we go on tour.”
Following Sofi Tukker’s set, DJ Snoopadelic entered the stream in the most Snoop Dogg way possible, smoking a joint. Sporting an all-green getup, Dogg mixed some jazzy beats before foraying into the first public debut of his latest quarantine-themed song, “I Wanna Go Outside.”
Up next, Tom Howie and Jimmy Vallance of Bob Moses took the stage from their Los Angeles outpost. Live from their living room, the duo performed a series of their vibey hits. In addition to working on new tracks and hosting their own weekly podcast, BobCast, Howie and Vallance have kept their passion for music alive now more than ever. “Right now we’re both technically unemployed and so I just realized if there’s no money and there’s nothing else involved, it just turns out that I do the exact same thing anyway,” Vallance explained. “We both just love making music and if there are no shows, apparently we just invent them and play them online. So I guess it just goes to show that we truly do love what we do.”
Rüfüs Du Sol was the highly anticipated final act of the festival and they didn’t disappoint. The Aussie-native trio—made up of Tyrone Lindqvist, Jon George, and James Hunt—staged their set in a friend’s cactus-filled garden to give viewers a taste of their desert days. Prior to playing the festival, the group spent the majority of their quarantine writing new music together in Joshua Tree.
In isolation, the trio staged a fanless concert complete with Lindqvist’s mic and guitar, Hunt’s full drum set, and George’s keyboard, which they documented and released for their fans to enjoy on repeat at home. And their pre-show ritual remained intact; “We’ll still have our ginger shots as we always do before we go on stage,” George confirmed, “That’s for sure.”
Of course, no festival is complete without a take-home to commemorate the experience, so The Surf Lodge launched a three-piece merch line featuring two hoodies and a tote with all proceeds going towards José Andrés’ foundation, World Central Kitchen.
In the same way The Sun Still Sets festival gave Surf Lodge-lovers and Governor’s Ball groupies a taste of pre-pandemic life, the livestreamed sets offered a sense of hope to the artists, too. “I think the live sets have made the biggest difference in keeping us sane and excited about life,” Halpern admitted.
The next phase for the Surf Lodge will come in July, when the venue will re-open with re-designed rooms and socially-distanced dining. In the meantime, Cardoso is planning another virtual concert, which is scheduled to launch in early June. While she couldn’t reveal the line-up just yet, she hinted “the next one will be more country heat, surf rock.” Mark your calendars.