Doheny Days: Day One – Doheny State Beach – September 8, 2012

Doheny Days–Day One
Doheny State Beach
September 8, 2012

See Also:
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*Wayne Coyne Says 2013 is the Year of the Flaming Lips
*Jane's Addiction and the Flaming Lips to Headline Doheny Days

There's a bittersweet taste that accompanies the end of festival season. For the avid, flip flop-wearing, face painted summer ticket buyer, it means that your mission to conquer all of SoCal's thermometer-bursting bacchanals is finally over. But in the case of Doheny Days, the festival gods truly decided to save the best for last. Back for the second year after a six-year hiatus, this beach-side soiree managed to pack major marquee headliners into a mid-sized atmosphere free from a lot of typical clusterfuck that accompanies any show involving multiple days and more than a dozen bands. Wandering between three stages populated by howling beach folk in breezy outfits and all pedigrees of graphic t-shirts and sunglasses, each show represented its own slice of appeal that, despite a few minor hazards and gaffes here and there, made for a solid celebration of summer's last gasp. Here's a list of sights and sounds from the first day.

Best Beard: The White Buffalo

 While there were plenty of examples of majestic facial on stage during Doheny Days, if you didn't get there early, chances are you missed one of the burliest beards on the bill. Despite his cool demeanor, we're willing to bet that The White Buffalo (aka Jake Smith) was hot as hell carrying around his trademark bristles during his 1:15 p.m. set at the Sailor Jerry Stage. Helping concert goers settle in with his rustic, soul-bearing Americana, Smith and company were a solid opener for a day of rock-n-roll bombast. By the way, anybody think he looks a little bit like the Dude in the Big Labowski in this photo?

Best Use of Belly Dancing: Beats Antique

You could argue that the moody, bass-heavy tribal fusion of Beats Antique deserved a sunset time slot. The music and stage show of this Oakland trio just sounds better in the dark. But they rose to the occasion, delivering a set to match the blazing heat mid afternoon at the Sailor Jerry Stage that included various vignettes of middle eastern hip shaking courtesy of member Zoe Jakes who graced the stage in billowing robes, an Eyes Wide Shut mask and face paint. At one point she came out with another dancer to really raise the stakes, whirling and gyrating to the excitement of a beer-swilling crowd. She made the art of undulating in time with David Satori and Tommy Cappel's melodic electro sound (which managed to incorporate a banjo) look pretty damn good.

[ Best Mullet: Ed Santos (Rock Da Mullet guy)

So if you arrived at almost any stage a few minutes early on Saturday, you saw this guy. Ed Santos, aka C-list web celeb Rock Da Mullet, was the master of freebies who greeted crowds with a bag full of shirts, bargain vacation packages hats and other random crap in exchange for hoots, hollers and yes, tweets. All day you heard him asking you to tweet pictures of your drunk ass to @Doheny Days to show what a good time your were having. A little desperate perhaps, but okay, we get it. Either way, we were barely listening to a word he said–too busy focusing on his glorious Tennessee top hat swaying in the wind. No drunken tweets from us though, sorry.

Scariest Place to Crowd Surf: Doheny Stage During Jimmy Eat World

We know Dana Point is supposed to be a surfing town. But after watching dozens of people eat shit after being hoisted up over the audience for Jimmy Eat World, it became obvious that crowd surfing isn't part of that reputation. We saw more people face planting during “The Sweetness” then probably any point of the festival. Climbing up over the mass of outstretched hands, a few minutes relishing in the delightful throw back moment of alt-rock a la 2001 was quickly distracted with the sight of frat boy after frat boy capsizing underneath the wave of concert goers. We're guessing the fact they let people with lawn chairs and towels sit so close to the front probably had something to do with it since the dedicated, standing-only fans only went back so far.Though the crowd failed to eat their Wheaties, a sweat-drenched Jim Adkins and company delivered plenty of emotionally-charged bluster and stamina that made us feel like giddy middle schoolers again.

Best Time Watching the Same Old Show: Santigold

Maybe it's just us, but we've experienced a bit of a Santigold glut this summer. Twice at Coachella, another show at House of Blues in Anaheim, the same dance routines, the same damn two-man horse trotting out in the middle of the set. But we have to say, the femcee born Santi White pulls it off every time. Reveling in echo-drenched indie pop oozing with Brooklyn grit, the singer's usual salvo of jams from her 2008 eponymous album and radio-hit cuts like the summer jam “Disparate Youth” from Master of My Make-Believe stayed surprisingly fresh and infectious as ever. Everyone from college kids to cougars got their blissful, hip-winding fill of dance hall-tinged electro and an entertaining dose of attitude from her bodacious, stoic back-up dancers. It's a fun show no matter how you slice it. But okay, next time we see you, you gotta promise to change it up okay?

Best Onstage Cameo/ Use of Scatting: Jane's Addiction

Proving that they are still a formidable, eccentric force in the alt-rock pantheon was surely a motivating factor for Jane's Addiction this summer. Wrapping up their summer tour schedule in Dana Point in support of 2011's The Great Escape Artist, the band led by storied surfer/frontman extraordinaire Perry Farrell demonstrated their thunderous squall of echo-laden psychedelics and blistering Dave Navarro guitar riffs that continue to age well. A smoky backdrop and a small harem of theatrical back-up dancers added touches of story telling to a set list that pulled generously from 1988's Nothing Shocking (“Jane Says,” “Ocean Size,” ” Mountain Song”  and Summertime Rolls”), which ought to be on every surfer's iPod. At one point we enjoyed a rather stellar drum circle performance from Navarro, drummer Steve Perkins and special guest Taylor Hawkins of the Foo Fighters during “Chip Away” that only added to the aural explosiveness of their closing set. But for all of the band's might and Ferrell's boundless range, his ability to jazz it up during certain points didn't go unnoticed, scatting like a Vegas lounge singer  holding a bottle of wine, looking shirtless and classy as ever.

Critical Bias: Since returning to OC this summer, I've gone to more beach festivals in past three months than I have in about the past three years combined.

The Crowd: A little bit of Abercormbie and Fitch, a hint of Coachella and a dash of Laguna Beach Art Walk, all rolled into one.

Overheard: “When I do acid, I see triplets.”

Random Notebook Dump: Why were there so many freakin' lawn chairs so close to the stage…with people sitting in them? Some people must've thought they were at the Doheny Blues Festival.

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