The Beach Goth backlash is getting too loud to ignore thanks to fans who refuse to let their dissatisfactory (and in some cases scary) festival experience from last weekend go unnoticed. Throughout the two-day event at the Observatory last weekend, frustrated attendees set social media ablaze with comments about dangerous overcrowding both at the outdoor stages and inside the venue, overflowing toilets, lack of drinking water and rescheduled or cancelled set times.
All of this after the venue switched last minute from Oak Canyon Ranch back to the Observatory. This appeared to be sensible decision given the logistical clusterfuck created by the the venue's previous festival at Day N Nite. But it still seemed like too much festival in too little space in the middle of a cramped, Santa Ana business park. And while no one could possibly blame Observatory for the shitty weather, Sunday's rainy conditions just made everything worse.
However, the consensus of this parking lot festival among most reporters and those who were there was that, while the music lineup was great and all, the space was totally oversold and lacked overall organization needed for a festival that chooses to grow to this level. It's not surprising considering how we've watched these once mid-sized festivals balloon over the past few years, beginning with Burger Records' massive festival, Burgerama.
One of the other key complaints that turned Beach Goth's Halloween-theme hipster bonanza into a nightmare was the level of security that was either too lax or overly aggressive when dealing with festival goers. Yesterday, one Beach Goth attendee sent us this video of two men being beat up by security, and one of them appeared to be totally knocked out by a guard who swung at him after what looked to be a pretty mild altercation.
Recently a petition among fans who are looking for refunds has been circulating and already gained about 1,000 signatures.
Even The Growlers, the beloved OC band who started out booking the festival but have lately been more hands off, made an attempt to address fans who've been blowing up their social media for days now. It's not so much an apology so much as it is an acknowledgment that the situation last weekend was totally fucked.
Their full statement below:
"To all who attended Beach Goth this weekend,
We saw it in your eyes. We hear you. We feel you. We want to sincerely thank you for supporting us – and each other – at this year’s festival.
We started Beach Goth in 2012 and have watched it grow into a strange and beautiful party larger than we could have ever imagined. After last year’s Beach Goth, we reflected on some of the challenges we experienced, and we set out to create a better festival for our fans in 2016. We wanted low ticket prices, a peaceful space for fans to hang out, quality food and drink options, and creative and thoughtful art and vendors. We settled on the beautiful Oak Canyon Park: we toured the space, planned the festival of our dreams and got beyond excited to share a new venue for Beach Goth with you. In the months that followed, as we recorded our new album and continued to tour, the plans shifted, due to various reasons, many of which were beyond our control. Eventually Beach Goth was moved back to the Observatory grounds.
We witnessed so many amazing things at this year’s fest. The spontaneous dance party that broke out during Future Islands’ set, right after the rain stopped. The guys who carried their ladies over the puddles. Meeting those of you in person who traveled wild distances to be a part of the adventure. Hearing Patti Smith say the words “Beach Goth!” to a crowd of thousands. In the past 48 hours, we’ve listened to your comments on email and social media, and we’re taking your words to heart. If we invite you to a show or party again, it will be for the fans first and foremost. We want you to feel the love that we have for you.
In the words of Saturday night’s legendary headliner Patti Smith, “People have the power / the power to dream, to rule / to wrestle the earth from fools.” Let’s stand up for what we believe and make a future experience that we can all be proud of.
With love and respect,
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The attempt to focus on the positives of the festival seemed to do little to appease their angry fans on Facebook, who shot back on their wall with waves of pissed off responses.
"Did you witness my friend getting her hair pulled by security?" writes festival goer Jason Giffen. "Did you witness another friend getting choked out because he had a go pro? Did you witness security basically locking people inside and breaking every fire code violation possible? Did you witness there were zero water stations? Did you witness someone basically start a stampede prior to She Wants Revenge playing? Did you witness women getting their breasts over searched in the security line? Did you witness security selling garbage bags to people when it started raining? Did you witness a festival being over sold? Did you witness there was only two fucking lines for will call on day one causing people to wait hours for tix that should’ve been sent in the mail? Y’all fucked this one up.
I’m standing up for what I believe and I believe you owe us a fucking refund.
That was the sorriest excuse for an apology when so many of your fans were treated terribly this weekend."
Based on what we know of past gripes of this nature, the likelihood of those folks actually getting a refund is probably zero. However, there's no denying that the festival's flaws this year sadly outweighed all the great music we saw (or didn't get to see). But if there's something that has come out of this outrage, hopefully it's that Observatory (and the Growlers) will look for another venue and more professional security staff to host its massive festivals before something really tragic happens.