Over the past four years, Beach Goth has morphed from a handmade, hipster Halloween party to a megafest-on-the-rise. The last couple years have seen a serious overgrowth of frenzied fans pile into the Observatory's inside/outside extravaganza not just to see The Growlers at their own festival, but for a host of marquee acts that could probably sell the place out on their own. Again, this year's Beach Goth was a packed, sweaty beast of weekend that saw Grimes premiere two new songs, as well as legendary sets from weirdo veterans like The Mummies, rising stars like the Allah-Lahs, and even a surprise cameo or two (Warren G popping up on the Beach Goth Stage!). The crowd also got a huge shot of adrenaline from acts like Die Antwoord, Mac Demarco, No Bunny and Sir-Mix-a-Lot, just a handful of the grab bag of entertainment that somehow managed to work well on this year's bill.
Of course, the Growlers gave us their mish-mash of bouncy psychedelics and reggae-tinged vintage rock for two nights in a row. The first night, they appeared as a horde of skeleton men, and the second night they spray painted themselves silver, proving that they can not only plan a festival (with the right team helping them), but also rock the hell out of it when they want to. Still, no fest is without it's flaws. And over the course of the two-day event we got to experience the highs and lows. After going home to take a shower, we came up with a little list of this year's Best and Worst of Beach Goth 2015.
Costumes The costumes at Beach Goth are always on point, and this year's were no exception. Aside from the standard gratuitous amount of black clothes, hair dye and makeup (and those who went more with the "beach" half of the theme), costumes ranging from a taco to nuns and priests to Flinstones and Mortal Kombat characters dotted the Observatory. While most festivals usually just include people wearing inappropriate and semi-offensive clothing, Beach Goth's crowd did an excellent job of only (sometimes) being intentionally inappropriate and generally hilarious to go along with it. Perhaps it's not mardi gras, but it's about as close as you'll get at an OC music festival. (Josh Chesler)
Pinatas Ranging from the Rolling Stones logo to pills, weed, and eyeballs, the pinatas at Beach Goth were on point. It shouldn't be a surprise, considering that Santa Ana is home to some of the finest pinata-makers in OC (and possibly the world), but it was nice to see the local flair bringing life to the outdoor area. Even Donald Trump's head was represented. Actually, the festival was quite nicely decorated overall. It didn't look like the barren wasteland of a parking lot like so many others. (Josh Chesler)
Wanda Jackson The First Lady of Rockabilly was on fire at the Graveyard Stage on Night 1 of Beach Goth. And not just because of the hot pink blazer she wore to during her rollicking set that started with "Riot in Cell Block #9." Even though following the Mummies sounds like a tough proposition for any act, Jackson's presence was still magnetic. We give the Beach Goth crowd plenty of credit for packing the stage and the pit to capacity, be it for the sake of reverence or just rocking out, as the 78 year-old exercised her classic, throaty howl backed by a steam-rolling rockabilly quartet. Showing off her yodeling skills and more contemporary chops (her cover of the late Amy Winehouse's "You Know I'm No Good") she worked the stage harder than most of the bands we saw this weekend that were a third of her age. (Nate Jackson)
Del the Funky Homosapien For some reason, Beach Goth decided to have Del the Funky Homosapien begin his set inside while the Growlers were still performing outside. Regardless of scheduling, the smooth rapper showed the Observatory why he was (and still is) a key member of one of the West Coast's most important hip-hop collectives. Del broke out everything from a few Hieroglyphics tunes (including "Powers That Be") to some Deltron 3030 material and even ended the set with "Clint Eastwood" from his time in the animated rap world with Gorillaz. There was plenty of hip hop (and other genres) at Beach Goth, but no one brought it like Del. (Josh Chesler)Sir Mix-a-Lot
If there's one thing that the nostalgic acts on the Graveyard Stage proved this weekend, it's that they are far from dead. Case-in-point: the pandemonium that occurred during Sir Mix-a-Lot's late night set on Saturday. Yeah, you were probably there to grab a cell phone video of "Baby Got Back," and that's okay. But the fact that the Seattle-bred MC behind one of the '90s biggest songs could rock a crowd for 45 solid minutes (only about six of which were spent on his big hit) you know he came to play. From "Buckin' My Horse" to "My Hooptie," "Swass," and the hip-hop classic "Posse on Broadway," Mix had us bouncing long before he had photographers lifting up girls onto the stage to shake those healthy butts for the big hit set-closer. At one point, even a dude got up on stage to show his Magic Mike moves it before diving into the crowd. Nothing wrong with a little equally-opportunity twerking.(Nate Jackson)
Ninja's Kid Dancing on Stage During Die Antwoord's set, Ninja told the audience that when he had told his 10 year-old daughter, Sixteen Jones, that Die Antwoord were playing the Beach Goth Party, his daughter asked if she could dance on stage. He then revealed: "Even though it was way past her bedtime, Ninja said, 'Yeah.'" He then announced that there would be a commercial break, and he and Yolandi left the stage while Sixteen danced for an entire song spun by their DJ, Hi-Tek. Later, when Ninja and partner Yolandi returned to perform more of their music, Sixteen returned to the stage to dance with her mother. (Scott Feinblatt)
Puppet Breakdancing The Beach Goth Party brings all sorts out to play. The very large and dense crowd was chock full of colorful scenery, much of which was quite provocatively dressed. But beyond the sexy garb, there were costumes galore -- some of which were extremely elaborate and creative (like the guy dressed as a dragon) -- and many people who brought various props to enhance the creative environment. One of these folks was a puppeteer with a painted face. His puppet was a very excellent likeness of Michael Jackson, and boy did he have the moves! The puppeteer manipulated the marionette through a variety of complex moves, including the moonwalk, the body wave, and various spins and flips. (Scott Feinblatt)
Selena Impersonator Adjacent to the Beach Goth stage next to the portapotties and beer garden was the Meash Mosh stage where Pauly Shore, the 5,6,7,8s played, along with a lovely young woman singing and dancing to the vibrant music of Selena. The Selena impersonator (we'll call her 'Number') delved deep into the musical catalog of slain Tejana music singer Selena and gave everyone an amazing time. Not to mention the Selena impersonator is a talented and beautiful singer in her own right. (Aimee Murillo)
Bloody Friends While many of the guests of the Beach Goth Party wore costumes, only a cross section of those dressed in a manner befitting another iconic event which took place this weekend: the Long Beach Zombie Walk. Within the dead / undead category, most costumed attendees wore Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) make-up, but a few of them were properly zombified and / or mutilated as though they had been attacked by zombies from the impending zombie apocalypse. This group of scarlet tainted hipsters showcased their zombie pride with a variety of fresh, dripping, gory wounds. (Scott Feinblatt)
Improved Crowd Flow The thorn in the side of last year's Beach Goth was the size of the massive crowds trying to enter and exit the Observatory's already-packed venue to the outdoor stage. This year, there was a little more orderliness and a set system in place to make the lines move more efficiently from one stage to the next. It wasn't perfect, but anything different from the shit show that was last year is an added improvement. (Aimee Murillo)Parliament Funkadelic
As Sunday's late night headliner, Parliament Funkadelic was the end all be all of concerts, for their extraordinary stage presence, natural weirdness and amazing music. Each song lasted 10-15 minutes, turning into long-winded jam sessions between members and leader, George Clinton (who appeared sans giant head of braids on his head). P-Funk was everything Beach Goth aims to promote and more, in fact, with all the random cast of characters who show up, the many varied musicians, the costumes and the party atmosphere, they out-Beach Gothed everyone else in attendance.(Aimee Murillo)
Up next: The Worst of Beach Goth
Pauly Shore Many of the people who actually remember Pauly Shore from his days as an MTV personality and short range pop-culture phenomenon might be surprised to know that The Weasel is still alive. This is not only because of the flop of his supposed comeback film Pauly Shore is Dead (over ten years ago), but the audiences at last year's Beach Goth Party did not exactly receive him with much more than a sympathetic smirk. On Sunday, just before headlining act The Growlers performed, he announced that none of the bands wanted him to share the stage with them. His response was something along the lines of: "Fuck all the other bands, the only band I care about is The Growlers." If all of the bands aren't happy about having Shore on the stage with them, that should be an indication that perhaps Mr. Shore's talents would best be put to use elsewhere. (Scott Feinblatt)
Parking Listen, Observatory, I really enjoy the time we spend together. You're a great place to see a show (one of the best in OC), and you get some fantastic acts on random weeknights. The hard truth is, you're just not logistically equipped to handle a festival. Parking is a problem for single shows at the Observatory, and it was damn near impossible for Beach Goth. The options were to wait in an hour-long line to pay $25 for a spot a few blocks away or to park in the surrounding neighborhood and take chances with street parking more legal in some places than others. (Josh Chesler)
Traffic Cops While maintaining a safe environment is obviously an important task at music festivals, there's a point at which the police have gone too far. For many concertgoers (particularly on Saturday), that point hit before they even got into the festival, as the local police force decided the most pressing issue facing the area was the stream of cars pulling off to the side of the road to drop fans off at the venue. Aside from undoubtedly ruining several people's days by issuing tickets for being kind enough to give their friends (and Uber passengers) rides to the show, it also all but ruined the flow of traffic along Harbor for those of us who weren't trying to unload any passengers and just wanted to get to the ridiculous parking line instead. (Josh Chesler)
The Food Pretty much terrible across the board. We understand that a growing festival isn't quite equipped to dish out fine dining, but seriously can we get a food truck that can make some grub that's worth the price you're selling it for? We spent most of the weekend staring at mounds of dry chicken tenders under heat lamps and the pizza is basically just cardboard with tomato sauce and pepperonis. Thank god for Carl's Jr and Del Taco down the street. Festival food is rarely great anywhere you go, but it's hard knowing that everything they had to eat inside the Observatory was clogging our arteries, draining our wallets and cheating our tastebuds at the same time. (Nate Jackson)
Barely-There Bondage Wear At music concerts and festivals, it's usually a given that you're going to see some risque fashion sensibilities. At the Beach Goth Party, all sorts of gothy and fetishy outfits and accessories were paraded. In many cases, this was perfectly acceptable and even helped alleviate the fact that this was an extremely crowded event; in other cases, the results were tragic. Let's study the individual in this photograph: as for this reporter, the gender which could render the optimal effectiveness of these clothing items is incorrect (but that's okay); second, the fishnet stockings don't go too well with the bondage straps; third, the stockings aren't adjusted to cover the gaping ass crack; fourth, well...there's no need to fat shame, but come on! There are plenty of obese naked men tripping on acid in concert footage from the sixties, but they're not trying to glorify their bodies with would-be sexy gear as would-be enhancements. Then again, different strokes for different folks... (Scott Feinblatt)
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
Seemed like there were plenty of kids who didn't know how to behave and ended up getting detained by security guards for their miscreant behavior, like being drunk and disorderly, fighting, and more. Keep Beach Goth safe for the kids, everyone, and play nice! (Aimee Murillo)
Cultural appropriation Yup, its 2015 and there were still some concert attendees dressed in Indian costumes and headdresses, as well as wearing bindis as fashion accessories. Not like we need to go into why this is a problem again, but c'mon guys, you're better than that. (Aimee Murillo)