The third annual Beach Goth was more circus than festival. The brainchild of garage-psych rock band The Growlers, Beach Goth is a one-day, all ages, balls to the wall party. This year the boys from Costa Mesa, CA teamed up with their local venue The Observatory to host one of the most highly anticipated parties of the year in Southern California. Moving away from a highly localized line-up, this year’s Beach Goth saw performances from Brooklyn’s DIIV, Toronto’s Alice Glass, Georgia’s Atlas Sound and France’s Le Femme.
Featuring three stages (one outdoor and two inside) Beach Goth used up every square inch of the grounds at The Observatory. There was a two-story beach fun house for the inebriated to run through, a Pharoah’s ship carnival ride, a dunk tank, a strongest man hammer, face painting and several beer gardens. That’s on top of the DIY style picture areas featuring Oompa Loompas, transvestites and aliens where fans could snap their photos and post them to whatever social network to score bragging points. The fans that come to Beach Goth come to party and they go all out. Dressed in everything from Indians (aka culturally offensive dress), sexy cats, clowns, mimes, quite a few gored up accident victims (?), nuns, Mormons and even a Jesus, they fit well with the sacrilegious circus going on. Set times kept changing and it was hard to know what band was going to be where (Bleached ended up playing almost 2 hours late and on a different stage due to flight delays). Yet, none of the fans minded too much. They were there to have a good time and rock out.
All the bands got into the spirit of Beach Goth too, most wearing costumes while they performed. It was like they were happy to be at a party that allowed them to have fun and get crazy with the crowed rather than march to the stringent time constraints and pretense of an overblown festival.
No other act embodied that party spirit as much as Foxygen. Known for his crazy antics, lead singer Sam France did not disappoint. He was like a jackrabbit on stage, bouncing around and thrashing his pink streaked hair. At one point he even ragged like a pouting toddler kicking at the photogs in the pit and yelling about his lost shoe (it ended up being on stage directly behind him). Foxygen brought along three back-up singers that swished their sequenced adorned asses and pouted their red lips to the delight of the crowd and security.
A real highlight of the day was discovering Oakland band Swimmers (formerly Emily’s Army) that looked like clean cut beach boys with their toe head surfer boy hair cuts, short-shorts and high-tops, but ragged on their guitars and riled the indoor crowd into a sweaty moshing ball.
Beach Goth didn’t forget about featuring beloved hometown acts either. Hin Du who got the day started with a solid set of new music and old favs.
All the way from France La Femme brought the sexy chic to the show. I mean how can a French accent, a cigarette playing keyboardist and two underwear clad members of a band not scream sexy cool? Their music matched their chicness too. It falls somewhere between pop synth and psych rock with traditional French according mashed in making for a modern day conjuring of walking along the Seine in Paris.
GZA, founding member of Wu-Tang absolutely killed his set inside The Observatory. Opting to play indoors instead of the main stage because he “prefers the intimate setting” he let it all out for the crowd. Absolutely everyone in the packed room was singing along to “Clan to Da Front.”
Alice Glass made news at the fest getting pissed about her set being cut short (due to a late running day and constant set-time/stage changes) and pushed part of her gear off her stands and stormed off. Pauly Shore, the MC for the event, ran after her and her dancers trying to get some answers, which only made the whole thing more awkward than it already was.
Of course hometown favorites and organizers, The Growlers, closed out the main outdoor stage to a crowd of adoring fans. With a full mariachi band to open their set, they really gave every last ounce of what little energy they had left after planning such a ragging party.
The Growlers really did pull off something quite spectacular. They made a party of hippy, carnival, side-show freak vibes into a one day festival that is likely to keep growing in scale and grandeur particularly if they keep diversifying the acts they add to the bill (and maybe nail down the set times ahead of time).