On October 24th and 25th, the fourth annual Beach Goth festival took over The Observatory in Orange County, California. The eclectic lineup was handpicked by concert founders and curators, The Growlers. The entire parking lot was transformed into a mini fairground. Indoors and out, there were decorations and props that gave a psychedelic take on the traditional haunted house. It was a neon-haunted-palooza.


Day 1

Saturday was the more packed day of the two. The crowds were anxious, the weather a stifling 90 degrees Fahrenheit. The beer flowed and a sweet, herby smoke filled the air. While overall the performances went well, tensions between security, press, and the crowd reached a tipping point; but more on that in a bit.

SWMRS, kicked off the festival with the first show on the main stage. The boys took full control, getting the crowd to mosh right off the bat. Drowners brought their take on guitar-led power pop to the indoor stage, The Graveyard. The jangling guitars whet fans' pallets. And of course, plenty in the audience swooned for Matt Hitt and his crooning vocals.

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Then came Riff Raff. That's right, Riff Raff. The rapper performed on the mainstage to an extremely receptive audience. Say what you will about the quality of his music, the man knows how to put on a show. All were under the spell of the corn-rowed wonder. Then, the rowdy punks, Together Pangea, quickly brought the rock vibes back to the outdoor main stage. The moshing resumed and people were crowd surfing like it was a normal mode of transportation.

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Mr Twin Sister brought their danceable, dream-pop to the festival. With congas, saxophone, drum pad, and keys, Mr Twin Sister pulled out all the stops. It was a modern, disco party- a sexy, slinky, groovy time. Outdoors, The Aquabats proved they are natural performers. Lead singer, The M.C. Bat Commander, punted numerous open water bottles into the crowd and brought out a lit torch and spit fire. They closed out their set with a near perfect cover of the Pixies, 'Where is My Mind' with the whole festival singing along. Indoors, Alex Knost and company, Tomorrow's Tulips, brought on the shoegaze and psychedelic drone. Drummer Jennifer Agnew received a haircut during a song while the band's dreamy haze soaked the crowd's minds.

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The ladies of Warpaint brought their signature dreamy guitars and back beats. Their harmonies were tight, no one overpowering the other. It is rare to find a band whose live sound transcends what they put out in the studio. Warpaint is one of those bands. Next up was indie-pop outfit, The Drums. There were times where the crowd's singing drowned out the lead vocalist. The cheers when lead singer Jonny Pierce slinked and danced on stage were deafening at times.


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Then, metal act, Ghost took the stage. Lead singer, 'Papa Emeritus' dressed like a satanic pope ready play an unholy black mass. Good, old Mac DeMarco brought on the laid back vibes. He could be seen smoking a cigarette on stage during sound check, goofing around with his band mates and the crowd. He opened with 'The Way You'd Love Her'. True to his nature, he made sure to jump off the stage and crowd surf. While he has the notoriety of never taking things too seriously, his musicianship is serious. All that feeding off of the crowd and his band mates elevates his playing and he knows that.

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There are performers who utilize the stage. Grimes is a young lady who owns it. She is able to have full control of her electronics, pedals, loops, moogs, while still singing and dancing likes it's nobody's business. The outdoor stage turned into a 40-minute rave. She was a siren, luring the crowd in with her danceable beats and sweet vocals.

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Remember when I said earlier that security, the press, and the crowd reached a tipping point? It was right before Grimes' set. Press was not allowed in the press pit to shoot. People were jumping the press barrier and trying to stay with press. Because of the amount of people doing this, it was considered unsafe. This caused some scuffles between fans, press, and security. And with the way they had press entering and exiting the pit, security consistently changing how it was done, it was no wonder tensions boiled over.

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Luckily, security was able to slow this down and let press in for The Growlers' set. The band and event hosts came out in matching skeleton costumes, getting into full character for their set. The crowd sang along to nearly every song. Lead singer Brooks Nielson knows how to woo a crowd. Now, after the designated three songs press can shoot, security moved us backstage; which is a double-edged sword. We got to meet and see many artists hanging out with friends, but we also missed most of The Growlers' set.

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Toro y Moi played the exclusive After Party. And for those who paid and stayed, it was worth it. Chaz and company brought out their menagerie of pedals. The whole crowd was dancing and singing. Toro y Moi is one of those acts able to balance electronic dance and rock music with live instrumentation without having styles clash.


Day 2

The second day was much less tense all around. The air was cooler and Security worked out a better system for Press entering and exiting. Even though the bands were no less exciting than day one, it seemed like there was a learning experience all around.

The Frights brought surf-tinged, pop-punk and got the crowd in the mood for day two. They were able to pull off sugary pop with a kick in the ass. Then, strolled onto stage. These dudes were dressed to the nine's, looking straight out of the 60s. Their easy riding surf-psych grooves seeped into the crowd and got everyone feeling all right.

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Touché Amore got the blood flowing. The punks thrashed and screamed, getting in the fans' faces. They did take a moment to dedicate their last song to the late Carey Lander from Camera Obscura who were slated to play the festival. A very sobering moment.

DIIV played a lot of new material which the crowd loved. Their atmospheric dream pop was soaked up by the audience like some psychedelic sponge. Indoors, the Coathangers riled up the crowd. Right before their set, a friend of the band threw fake cocaine and blow up dolls into the crowd. Once the ladies started playing, the pit exploded with moshing and some of the most intense crowd surfing of the two days.

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Juicy J asked people in the crowd what they were smoking and if they like to drink and pop pills. Later in his set, he poured shots of Hennessy into fans' mouths. FIDLAR came out dressed like Bill Lumbergh, the boss and main antagonist in Office Space. Their fuel-injected rock brought the crowd back to moshing.

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Julian Casablancas (JC + The Voids) elicited straight primal screams from the crowd. Mr. Casablancas sang with his typical croon and the crowd swooned. At one point, he jumped into the press pit and ran along the front of crowd high fiving and getting pulled on by fans. Then there was Die Antwoord. Much like Grimes, they utilized the whole stage. The crowd was chanting and screaming their name before they even came out. Ninja stage dove into the crowd right away while Yo-Landi taunted and flipped off the crowd. Their hard rap/ EDM sound was embraced by attendees.

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Sunflower Bean brought on the heavy psych rock to a packed house at one of the indoor stages. Their dedicated fans crowd surfed and danced the entire set. The band is a tight-knit group. They each utilize their instruments best when listening and feeding off of each other. That chemistry could be felt by the fans. Parliament Funkadelic closed out the festival. It was surprising how young the crowd was that stayed for the masters of funk. George Clinton offered to take the crowd to planet funk and they all fought to be the first onboard the spaceship. Their set was full of lyrical and instrumental improvisation with plenty of dancing and hype men to keep the crowd going.

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Even with minor logistical issues for press and security, from a fan's perspective, everything went smoothly. It was noticeable how much this festival has grown over the years. Due to the amount of attendees and everything that comes with it, it might be time for a larger venue. But, all in all, Beach Goth was a successful two-day festival. Many of the bands hung out in the crowd with fans and willingly took pictures and chatted it up with them. The laid-back vibe embodied the principals of the festival. It will be exciting to see what direction Beach Goth goes in the coming years.