Beach Goth V
Beach Goth pulled out some impressive punches for its fifth installment. Bon Iver, Justice, Grimes, Patti Smith, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Violent Femmes, TLC. The diversity of its most sought-after acts matched the variety and quality most of us have on our Spotify playlists. In a world where Coachella and Lollapalooza reign supreme on people's bucket lists, Beach Goth maintained growing consistency in the SoCal scene. For their latest installment, The Growlers upgraded their festival from the OC Observatory to newer pastures: Oak Canyon Park. The new venue prompted a rise in ticket prices and a larger capacity so more fans could join in for the fun. Sure, it was farther from the beach but overall better for all. Excited fans booked flights from out of state to attend and the anticipation was palpable anywhere the name came up. Until the venue had to move back to its original location due to unforeseen circumstances, prompting an onslaught of complaints that unfortunately didn't reach their end once the festival started.
Day one started off fine enough: all-girl band Hinds from Spain were one of our most anticipated openers before Cold Cave took the stage with his industrial sound. Chicano Batman, while missed from us, was probably the name we heard lauded most over the rest of the weekend. The RuPaul's Drag Race Stars Sharon Needles, Adore Delano, and more brought many of the festival's nubile teens their first taste of a drag show. While SWMRS inspired a surge of crowd surfing indoors, Albert Hammond Jr. – whose father ironically sang "It Never Rains in Southern California" – charmed his crowd outside. In retrospect, we wonder if that timing conflict served as a rain dance of sorts for the downpour the next day. Next the festival had most people running around trying to catch bits of everyone's sets: Health and the Violent Femmes, respectively, took over their stages for their own sets then many promptly rushed to TLC to indulge in 90's hits. Everyone with an affinity for poetry was enraptured by the iconic Patti Smith while others were dancing their faces off to Tr/st's indoor set. Melanie Martinez played up her lolita Crybaby aesthetic with large on-stage children's blocks and a birthday cake. King Krule debuted a new song then James Blake took everyone on a transcendent journey under the night sky. The Growlers led the first of their two shows with aplomb before Bon Iver closed out the night. Despite some hiccups, overall it was a good day and every artist knocked their performances out of the park.
Let's go over the venue layout before we dive into day two. Beach Goth consisted of four stages: Dome Stage (main), Outdoor RX Stage, Observatory Stage and Constellation room. The Dome Stage, situated in the middle of the festival and the first accessible when arriving, was the only one that was arguably easy to get to. The RX Stage, long and narrow, proved continually tough to battle through. As it got more packed later in the night, kids had to be pulled out of the pit by security while being crushed by the crowd. The indoor stages, Observatory and Constellation, were only accessible by one main entrance that was constantly blocked off to keep the venue from being too crowded and violating fire codes. When a group was let inside, they practically fell into the lobby of the venue as other concert-goers clamored to get inside. The Constellation Room, while small and typically reserved for less known acts, couldn't compete with the draw the talent booked brought in. Fortunately, the Observatory Stage still had room to move about for the most part.
Day two started with a gloom most expected to see clear up later in the day. After all, it's California. We don't get rain often otherwise we wouldn't be in the middle of a historic drought. But clear skies weren't on the horizon. La Femme partied hard with a light mist in the air and Kali Uchis swayed on stage dressed appropriately for the weather in a bikini top. The Adicts fit the pre-Halloween vibes with their signature clown attire and as the rain picked up Devendra Banhart urged everyone to keep each other warm. Inside, TOPS' room overflowed and Egyptian Lover was so packed as people tried to get out of the rain that once you were inside you were practically stuck there. Fortunately, amid all the chaos, the Pharcyde delivered a set some of the younger crowd may not have caught if they weren't practically forced indoors. The RX Stage got shut down. Its standing area was flooded. Still, people danced in the water to Future Islands' set. The Drums were moved indoors, visible only by a page on their instagram account relaying the news. Artists were being moved around and there was little, if any, communication by the venue staff or organizers. Nicolas Jaar moved indoors but was consolidated into a DJ set. Grimes, who kicked off a year of touring at Beach Goth 4, was unable to play after her equipment got damaged by the rain. Despite the show going on 'Rain or Shine,' there wasn't any planning for when water decided to fall from the sky. The best offered was giant black trashbags sold for $1 each to those willing to take what they could get. The Growlers played their second set of the weekend and Justice closed down the night with a less than stellar sound system to celebrate their return.
The most prevalent pictures of the festival were probably various pictures of people crossing the massive flood beside the entrance and main stage. While the performers maintained their professionalism and put on a show worth watching, many were unable to catch the acts they wanted to see due to the inability to move about freely. The commentary of the fest on their facebook page and twitter were scathing at best and one attendee went so far as to create a petition requesting the festival give all ticket buyers a refund or ticket credit to make up for the weekend. It's already gained over a thousand signatures. While the experience wasn't the best, we do hope they are able to make improvements and pull off a sixth installment. Any maybe give Beach Goth V attendees a discount next year.