Beach Goth day 2 at the Observatory in Santa Ana was a bit more organized than the previous and featured a couple of interesting performances from its biggest names.
They had more security setup to make getting into the festival a quicker experience than the previous day. What took hours on Saturday took minutes on Sunday. People were getting their full Halloween garb tried out for next weekend. I saw a hot dog, Quail Man (from the 90s Nick cartoon Doug) and quite a few zombies, as well as some members of the KISS Army and Sailor Moon.
But what made Beach Goth day two special was unquestionably the music.
Newport surf-rock band DIIV was the first act I caught. Fans of Mac DeMarco and The Drums found themselves at home during their set as they have a bit of a similar aesthetic – and the similarly floppy-brimmed hats that DeMarco and his fans wear in droves. “Dopamine” was the standout track of their brief performance and it kicked things off nicely for me, setting the table for the rest of the day.
It was much easier to work my way inside to the Graveyard stage Sunday than the previous day. I was able to catch the entirety of punk rockers Plague Vendor. Singer Brandon Blaine reached the mic stand into the crowd for some help on one song.
The Coathangers were one of our can’t miss acts and they delivered on that promise. This kickass female trio wore some Halloween-esque facepaint to go with their killer tunes. I caught a majority of their set and wish I had been a little closer to the action where the crowd was really embracing them.
Juicy J was an oddball billing for this festival, but it was sort of awesome to see hip-hop get a little bit of featuring on this mostly-rock fest. It may not have been the perfect type of crowd but people dug it nonetheless, particularly “Sippin’ On Some Sizzurp.”
The favorite of the day was probably FIDLAR. Known for their raucous performances, they did not disappoint. They’ve been touring in support of their awesome album Too, these guys were rocking some slacks and ties, dressed as nerds a bit early for Halloween. Their set was cut unexpectedly short as earlier sets had run too close together. It was a bit of a bummer, but definitely will force people to catch them in LA at the Regent on Oct. 30.
Julian Casablancas + The Voidz delivered the most surprising set of the day. Playing a lot of stuff from their latest album Tyranny, they also threw in an unexpected but amazing cover of the Milli Vanlli one-hit wonder “Girl You Know It’s True.” What makes these smaller festivals awesome is it gives acts a chance to try goofy shit like that, and hey, it worked.
Die Antwoord isn’t totally my thing but they fit the Beach Goth vibe rather well with their blend of rap. During their set, Ninja mentioned telling his 10-year-old daughter they were playing the fest and she asked if she could come dance during their set. They took a break and she came out and danced while their DJ spun a song, it was pretty adorable – as is her name, Sixteen.
Casablancas made one more appearance – during The Growlers’ festival-closing set. Together they performed The Doors’ “People Are Strange.” The Growlers were absolutely COVERED in that metallic paint you see people sometimes wear as pretend-statues for tips on the Las Vegas Strip.
There were definitely some things I’d like to see cleaned up if this festival continues. A lot of things were handled from the first day and weren’t issues the second day, but overall I wish there were a few less bands and sets that were a little longer, but perhaps that was more based on the money they had to spend on bands. It would have been nice to see longer than thirty-minute sets from some of the more marquee acts, but getting to see all of them on one bill was quite a treat.
This festival will be one I’d continue to go to, but it will be purely lineup-based.
Words: Mark E. Ortega
Photography: Steven Ward