It was a bold name to live up to, but the first-ever Just Like Heaven festival was really just that for indie-electro music lovers.
The event, which took place at Queen Mary Park in Long Beach on May 3 and 4 with identical lineups each day, featured electrifying performances by Phoenix, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, MGMT, Passion Pit, Shiny Toy Guns, The Faint, The Rapture and more.
The park, backdropped by the Queen Mary and the downtown LBC landscape, made for an ideal, large spot where people could feel like they were at a mini-Coachella of sorts, complete with good tunes, Instagram-worthy photo spots, a variety of food and, of course, a shit ton of glitter.
Those who shelled out about $300 for a VIP pass got to stay cool under a large, tented section by the main stage. The area included air-conditioned restrooms (because there’s nothing shittier than a gross Porta Potty), cocktail service, food trucks, power outlets and a prime view of the stage.
Painted murals, a pink telephone booth and neon angel wings were just a few of the offerings where patrons could strike their best poses for Instagram. It was truly a playground for everyday Instagram users and higher-profile influencers alike.
The Return of Shiny Toy Guns
One of the aspects that was most surprising about the lineup announcement — at least for this writer — was that Shiny Toy Guns was written in small print toward the bottom of the poster. Just Like Heaven was actually the quartet’s first show since going on a hiatus in 2017. The group powered through its 30-minute nostalgic songs like “Le Disko,” “Don’t Cry Out” and “You Are the One” with a performance that showed no signs of wear from the two-year break. We can only hope this means more shows are on the horizon.
Holy food selection, Batman. While some festivals still rely on hot dogs, tacos, pizza and burgers to fuel their patrons, Just Like Heaven knows people are looking for more variety. Pulled pork mac and cheese, loaded tots, Mediterranean food and Afters Ice Cream were just a few of the offerings throughout the grounds. Of course, such yummy food came at a price. (What else would you expect from a festival where people spent hundreds of dollars to be there?) While my $18 sushi burrito was delicious, for that price one might hope it was just caught in the water that provided the event’s photo-worthy backdrop.
Patrons went all out for the festival, dressed in their most glittery and shiniest duds. Much of the style harkened back to the 1990s, with girls in Doc Martens, body glitter and pigtails. My friend even smoked a blunt with a group of chicks who could have been mistaken for a reincarnated Spice Girls. The people-watching experience was just insane at this festival, and I think I’m starting to get why people go all out for Coachella. As I spend the next few weeks attempting to scrub all this glitter off my body, I hope I can remind myself how it was all worth it to look like a groovy galactic girl in my tie-dye romper, pigtails and chunky body glitter.
These were good for the crowds, but not so ideal for vertically challenged pit photographers like myself. My collapsible step stool proved to be my best friend.
You would have thought Goldenvoice learned after the When We Were Young festival not to screw fans over with tiered pricing. Tickets were originally highly advertised at $99. However, would-be attendees quickly became enraged on social media after long waits in a virtual waiting room just to find those passes quickly sold out and, instead, more expensive blocks of tickets (nearly double the original price) were suddenly available. Scammy? Maybe. Confusing? Definitely.
Space Between the Stages
Having to trek through a tunnel with hundreds of others at any given time, just to move from one stage to the other, was not ideal, to put it lightly. However, the six miles (seriously!) that my friend and I walked today at the festival hopefully countered the pulled pork mac and cheese I shoveled into my mouth during MGMT.
The selection of merch was seriously lacking, with many of the products advertising the festival itself rather than individual bands. Most bands only sold one shirt, with others not selling anything at all. And advertised The Faint enamel pins weren’t even sold. Bummer.
No on-site parking was offered, and all cars had to park in downtown Long Beach and patrons had to take a shuttle to the venue. After seeing the long line for said shuttle, my friend and I decided to Uber from our car. Our friendly driver warned us that at the end of the night, no ride shares would be allowed near the Queen Mary, and everyone who parked downtown (so, literally, everyone) had to take shuttles to the Convention Center and either catch ride shares there or walk the several blocks back to their cars. My friend and I chose the latter, and, no, we didn’t factor those steps into our six-mile pedometer count.
By day, Brittany covers hard-hitting city news in San Diego. By night, she’s prowling the Orange County music scene, and is usually a regular attendee of local ska and punk shows. Reporting and music have always been Brittany’s passions. She wrote for her middle school and high school newspapers and studied journalism at Cal State Long Beach, where she graduated in 2012. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her French Bulldog, watching probably too many Disney movies for someone her age and napping.