Review: Paul Oakenfold gives Shephard's its trippiest Beach House Sunday of the season (w/ photos)

The EDM pioneer headlined a poolside set on Clearwater Beach.

click to enlarge Review: Paul Oakenfold gives Shephard's its trippiest Beach House Sunday of the season (w/ photos)
Jonathan Ridgely

After another sweltering Florida summer weekend, many were sent packing with their beach bags and freshly gleaming sun burns as they headed home over the bridges, presumably done with their pre-Fourth of July festivities.

Those of us who know better made our way down to Shephard's Beach Resort on Sunday night to catch an internationally acclaimed DJ in Paul Oakenfold, the latest headliner in Shephard's summer concert series labeled Beach House Sundays.

The tiki deck was noticeably less rowdy than previous weeks, perhaps catering to the vibe that trance DJ Oakenfold likes to emit. 

In the late 90s, Paul Oakenfold began to receive recognition internationally for his work as a live DJ and credits as a producer, where he worked with artists like U2, Duran Duran, Madonna, and the Rolling Stones. He was promptly recognized as the no.1 DJ in the world twice in 1998 and 1999 by DJ Magazine and is a two-time Grammy winner. While in years past he has opted for a more corporate role, heading the EDM side of Isina, a global talent agency, he still maintains a global touring presence. This is a treat for old school electronic fans who want to catch a pioneer of the genre.

Opening up the night were a slew of ambient-oriented DJs. The biggest name on the opening slate was fellow 90s trance star and Maryland-native BT. Attendees who were just there to catch the party were introduced to the trance genre in full, as BT curated a trippy, house set that helped curb the energy of the crowd to the designed techno chill. 

click to enlarge Review: Paul Oakenfold gives Shephard's its trippiest Beach House Sunday of the season (w/ photos)
Jonathan Ridgely

In between sets, fans were able to spread around Shephard's spacious pool deck, which also features Clearwater Beach's only "club," The Wave. This was a fun spot to catch some more pop-based music while grabbing a cheap drink. Most fans filtered back out to the deck at 11:30 p.m., which is what time Paul Oakenfold came on. 

Whereas in previous weeks you had people hanging off of the beach railings and grinding on the dance floor, guests were far more content passively swaying to this trip-hop and ambient presentation. Some fans even opted sit on the back side of the pool deck where the actual pool is located, watching the lights and listening to the music while spread out on pool chairs. The stage show was no exception to this vibe. The shows of weeks past which featured eclectic laser displays and smoke cannons were instead passed up for a more mesmerizing and hypnotic neon setup.

Oakenfold's music featured some of his more radio friendly songs, but mainly focused on deep house and techno cuts. At one point, he even sampled the soundtrack of the critically acclaimed movie Interstellar.

While both past and future bookings for Beach House Sundays promote a more sweat inducing, hyped environment, the Sunday before we celebrate America's independence featured a much more relaxing atmosphere. Not a bad way to end one's weekend.

Catch Clearwater's best weekend-capping event next Sunday, which features headliner SNBRN. Free list spots are still available on Shephard's website, at


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LJ Hilberath

Franz “LJ” Hilberath is a Clearwater-native who contributes to Creative Loafing's Music section. He previously served as an intern and is now a freelance contributor for all things music.LJ can be found in the field reviewing concerts and music festivals around the country, and also works interviews for both local...
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