[Event Recap] Beach Goth 4
In times as peculiar as those spent those spent at Beach Goth, a fleeting sense of predictability should come as no surprise. Fueled by an eclectic mash of sandy-toed beach rockers, funk phenoms, hip-hop icons, and Pauly Shore... the latest installment served as the most sizable and chaotic to date. But, even with the new jumbo screen and appearances from the likes of Warren G and Wanda Jackson, it’s hard to say that the event has grown beyond it’s humble beginnings.
As the set designers, procurers and headliners of the yearly Halloween pre-party, The Growlers craft their ghetto party mindfully, despite it's choppy surface. Between days re-entry rules changed without warning, backstage liberties swayed with alternating security, and “Exit Only” designations paid no mind whether you were coming or going. It is very much a laissez-faire approach to event planning but it served as the weekend’s silver lining yet again.
With a number of bands back for their third appearance, The Growlers have assembled a family of sorts with an ever-growing mass of like-minded Beach Gothers in tow. Somewhat unsurprisingly, however, as crowds have grown Santa Ana’s Observatory has not. By the time together Pangea took the main stage (around 2:30pm) on Saturday the crowd amassed to a size it would hold through the end of our hosts first of two headlining sets. But, as can happen in this circus of a place, our timeline has been skewed and we must backtrack a bit.
Drifting in through the slow moving press line we plunged into Riff Raff with no chance to test the waters. The rapper rapped atop a bevy of bass that people seemed to be enjoying, but whether it was ironic or genuine was unclear. Entering the Graveyard room we found Mr.Elevator & the Brain Hotel in the midst of a bone shaking set. Clad in skeleton bodysuits, the guys behind Lolipop Records rattled off material from their upcoming album before peaking at the ultimate ender: “Nico” into “& Her Psychedelic Subconscious.” Up next was Kadavar all the way from Berlin. With a viking-like demeanor and beefy riffs the trio changed my feelings about guys in vests without shirts.
The Aquabats and their pool party rock then manned the main stage. The MC Bat Commander punted a number of water bottles irksome enough for any California resident before burning through Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire.” Closing with a rendition of the Pixies’ “Where is my Mind” the Huntington natives then gracefully bowed out.
Attempting to catch Cat Signs on the Outer Space stage we found the tiny room busting at the seams which sent us toward Dungen who struggled to hold things together in spite of an incessantly out of tune guitar. The Drums then returned for the reunion of their main stage command which was a bit lukewarm for me but I know many would disagree.
As cool night descended, we readied for the warm cup of clam chowder that is Mac Demarco. The NY-based crooner surveyed the crowd before bursting into “The Way You’d Love Her.” Sending us off with “Another One” and a bare-footed stage dive, he humbly thanked us for the surf before spreading on a closing chorus. The Eagles of Death Metal were then perched upon the stage and delivered a set that served as a bold highlight to the weekend. The room erupted and flowed like a volcanic crater before a cover of Duran Duran’s “Save a Prayer” claimed my legs and my cohort’s camera battery. Taking that as our queue to vacate, we placed the cherry on our day with 7-11's finest pepperoni pizza.
As the sun rose on day two a feeling of sluggishness set in, but rock n' roll waits for no man. So, waters and breakfasts were guzzled and we were on our ways for round two. Getting us started was the elusive Mrs. Magician. Set on the Graveyard Stage, the San Diego-natives rose from the crypt of their temporary hiatus for a set of “strictly classics.” It was then made clear that “[they] have a new record coming out, but none of these songs are on it.” Despite a last minute drummer fill-in, the dudes brought enough energy to compensate my lack of coffee and I was ready to get a little trippy.
As the unabashed enthusiast of all things cannabis, Juicy J hyped the main stage by passing out shots of Hennessy and Ciroc (after checking for wristbands of course) between each song. Jumping to the opposite end of the spectrum, we were then blasted by the sonic boom of Fidlar. Within two minutes of the first song Zach Carper was sliding across the ground in true rockstar form. “Punks” marked the boiling point with it’s melodic bar-scream register that decimated onlookers near and far.
What I’ll say next will probably cause the loss of a friend or two, but Julian Casablancas + The Voidz was about as exciting as an unsalted pretzel. I did not expect a Strokes-esque performance but the robotic vocal filter was like a dial tone throughout the entire set. Somewhat confused I moved toward the Allah-Las. Here I found a room that would make a sardine can look spacious with air as thick as fudge. The pressure of the crowd conjured the feeling that Allah-Las may be my death soundtrack (which wouldn’t be so horrible) but with a need for air my white flag was waived.
Savoring every breath of air under the Santa Ana moon our humble hosts delivered their second set of the weekend flawlessly. Doused head-to-toe in silver paint, the braves of all things “beach” and “goth” entered with “Mr Roboto”. Worming their way further into my heart with old jams like “Sea Lion Goth Blues” and freshies like “Chinese Fountain”, there really was no better way to drop a curtain on the weekend.
The issue of capacity was the broth of this year’s shit show stew, but all is fair in love and Beach Goth. If you come expecting an organized commercial experience you will be sorely disappointed, but those that swim for a safety rather than wade through the madness will find themselves in a similar boat. To sum it up briefly, (which this story may have failed to do) we can look to the words of Eagles of Death Metal's Jesse Hughes who declared, "I have never seen more unhinged potential for rock n' roll."