Pacific Festival: OC
August 13, 2011
Oak Canyon Ranch
wide expanse of gorgeous, lush tree-covered land, the creative minds
behind Orange County's Pacific Festival constructed five stages in the
sweltering summer heat. Tanned teens and young adults, decked out in
their American Apparel best, sweated out the Redbull ($3), beer ($8) and
water ($2) they'd purchased in minutes, leaving them nothing to do but
melt on the grass beneath the forest's shade and contemplate spending
more money on overpriced PBR. The pre-entry bag check had left all but
the craftiest kids bone-dry–anything, even water, was confiscated.
It was this crowd–one that was tired and a tender pink from hours of sun, music and being just-barely tipsy–that Aussie Cut Copy performed for at 1 a.m., over an hour after their set was supposed to begin. Snoop Dogg's tardiness (which he is notorious for) had pushed their set back.
Turns out it didn't matter much. When the lights flashed indicating that Cut Copy was about to take the stage, an uproar of applause began. The boys, energized despite the start time, lept around on stage in their sweat-soaked button-ups, occasionally gesturing to the crowd during particularly poignant points in the music. The jovial pop of “Take Me Over” embellished by frontman Dan Whitford's near-nasal vocals and a Fleetwood Mac hook, pulsated with the crowd, encouraging them to dance off their lethargy. Halfway through the set, as the crowd began to dwindle (it was, afterall, nearly 2 a.m.) the trio segued into Carribeanesque “Blink and You'll Miss a Revolution,” dancing in place, as unhindered as an instrument-clad group could muster, eventually closing out with the frenetic robo-pop of “Out There on the Ice.” As the lights scattered and glowed, Whitford sang, pleading in a suave baritone to the crowd “Don't Let it Tear Us Apart.” And they didn't–moving as one, the audience jumped up and down to the final song of the evening, pushing in closer to the group that would sing them home.
I stood in the same place I'd occupied since Ghostland Observatory's dazzling light show (perhaps the most impressive visuals of the evening), a small corner nearby the fence that divided the V.I.P area and the not-V.I.P., which was, really, just another patch of grass that wasn't even very well monitored (I got kicked in the head twice on two different occasions by guys hopping the fence). The patch of grass wasn't really worth the extra fence-hopping effort (or the money)–most of it was covered in the mulch of cans and paper discarded haphazardly by uncaring festival goers. But, as they say, the grass is always greener on the other side.
Next to this V.I.P. patch of grass was another even more V.I.P. patch of grass dubbed “The Pacific Club” (as far as I could tell, it was just another patch of grass. The entire V.I.P.-ness of these areas was lost on me). Fortunately, there was plenty of room to move around in throughout the day, making the need to push people over (as is common at most music venues) to reach an artist unnecessary. It also made trips to the food trucks (The Bomb, a hot dog slathered in chili, cheese, bacon and other condiments, for $6 at the Greasy Wiener, was a popular item) and unpleasant porta potty bathroom breaks (people are disgusting) slightly less stressful. During Afroman's dopey “Because I got High” and hazy clap-along “Colt 45” on the mainstage, festivalgoers lazed in the grass, unconcerned with pushing towards the lime-green suited performer and his trippy green background. But the chill vibe was dispelled later in the evening, when all patches of grass were suddenly bursting with bodies as Ghostland Observatory exited, and the anticipation around Snoop Dogg's arrival began to build.
It's not a surprise that Snoop can do whatever the hell he wants–he commands crowds. Though people grumbled (“Is he even coming?”) in the minutes leading up to the rapper's set, no one actually seemed interested in leaving the stage area (which meant, unfortunately, due to the late start time, most had to choose between seeing the Black Lips and the king of P.I.M.P.)
The decision for most of the crowd was clear. As soon as he ambled onto stage, clad in a black tracksuit with his hair in the signature Snoop braids, the crowd was chanting his name. “SNOOOP DOOOGG” the crowd hollered, throughout “Who Am I (Whats My Name)” as the girls whipped their hair and boys fist-pumped. Snoop encouraged his fans to spark up as he spit lines in front of a rapidly changing screen of nature pictures, running efficiently through popular hits “PIMP,” “Drop It Like It's Hot” and smokey “Gin and Juice”–performing only part of some songs due to time restrictions. The belated Snoop, the ever-persistent reminder that pimp is alive and well, brought out a group of short, scantily-dressed dancer girls to grind around him as he sat in a chair–the godfather of rolling deep, party time and gangster swag–reveling in his untouchable unaccountability despite his tardiness, weed smoking, and all around audacity. By the end of his set, unsurprisingly, the crowd had forgiven him.