Leave it to The Growlers to make an old-school spectacle out of a still relatively new festival. Last night, the band held a ticket raffle for a secret show inside the Constellation Room at the Observatory–a warm up to the announcement of their fourth annual Beach Goth festival on October 24 and 25. The full lineup, featuring Grimes, Die Antwoord, Julian Casablancas, The Voidz and many more is listed on the flier below. In the new tradition of last year's fest (back when we wrote a cover story about the band), it's become a giant Halloween melting cauldron of acts that you'd probably never expect to see mashed together–putting The Aquabats, Riff Raff, Subhumans and Sir Mix-a-Lot next to each other on a flier seems so wrong but feels SO right! And it further attests to the Observatory's growing ability to craft its own mini Coachellas virtually at will.
Anyway, back to last night. Shit was crazy. In order to get into the Constellation's 400-person capacity room, you had to purchase a $1 lottery ticket from the will call booth starting at 5 p.m. Evidently, people got the memo. At one point there appeared to be almost 1,000 hopeful fans who showed up wanting to get in. Waiting out in the parking lot with red raffle tickets in hand (they scrunched together as the winning numbers were read. At one point, lead singer Brooks Nielsen gave us an early dose of his trademark rasp as he called out some of the numbers while hyping the crowd.
"455337! I'm praying for ya baby!…447131!…619493!…I know it's fucked but I really like when you guys go 'UGHHH!'"
There was definitely plenty of "ughhs" to go around. Mid way through people were already ripping up their spent raffle tickets and tossing them into the air, commingling with frustrated shouts and blunt smoke.
"Ya know what's great about this?" Nielsen shouted from the megaphone on the steps next the exit of the venue where the raffle was held. "This is old school, this is what your parents had to do, your mama and dada. None of this shit like "text me…did I win?!"
Once all the winners were finally called, the rest of the heartbroken crowd dispersed without too much trouble as people filed in to the cramped Constellation Room. The long funky warm up set from DJ/ Iggy Pop look-a-like Johnny Basil (aka Heru Avenger) added to the old school vibe with jams from The Rolling Stones, The Gap Band, Dazz Band and James Brown. Finally the Growlers showed up just after 10 p.m. to start their set with "Drinking the Juice Blues," which set off a chain of excited bouncing and stage diving that never really relented, even during slow tracks like "Acid Rain" which was a little confusing. Although it was endearing to see so many teenage faces get on stage and attempt to stage dive for the first time after taking their selfies with Nielsen and the band. It was adorable.
Next page: See the full poster and lineup for Beach Goth 2015
The show included a steady mix of tracks from their last last few albums, including their latest, Chinese Fountain–a record which now seems to gel pretty well now with the rest of their set despite all the belly aching about its polished, synth-infused tracks when it was first released. The show lasted a little over an hour, capped by encore songs "Gay Thoughts" and "Someday."
In the end, despite all the sadness of the people who didn't get in to the party, fans can at least take comfort that their next opportunity to see the band isn't too far away when their build out their circus carnival of craziness to the parking lot where they got their hearts broken last night. And hopefully one of your friends bombed you with enough stage diving pics on social media to make you feel like you were there.
See the full poster of the lineup for Beach Goth 4 below.