Beach Goth was a huge clusterf*ck, but it wasn’t without its high points.
Grimes, the multi-talented musician who seems to do everything herself, debuted four new songs on the first night of the two-day festival that took place at the Observatory in Santa Ana.
But before that performance, there were headaches galore. I showed up on the later side at around 4 p.m. and yet it took me almost an hour to get into the event. There were millennials abound with their phones Snapchatting the entire event it seemed, inundating their friends with 10-second clips of poor quality video. Security had little clue what was going on, particularly where to direct VIP-ticket holders.
Set times were also too brief for some of the more prominent acts (Grimes played 45 minutes, Warpaint played 30) and people were crammed into much too tight of spaces in general. I gave up trying to get into the inside stages after not too long and just stuck with the main stage in the parking lot for most of the night.
That said, there was a lot of interesting attire worn, just a week before Halloween fully takes over. A lot of thought was put into the costumes by many of the festival-goers, which brightened up the crowd a bit.
The heat was a bit much for those who arrived early. I got there in time to see Warpaint, a long-time favorite of the Los Angeles music scene. They packed a lot of punch in a much too brief set. Singer Theresa Wayman fought the sun with some sunglasses and a skirt. “Love Is To Die” got the biggest pop from the crowd. This is one of few shows the band has played in recent months in the States as bassist Jennylee Lindberg releases a solo album and Wayman works on her own solo endeavor.
Ghost was a rather interesting performance. I knew little of this Swedish metal band, who aren’t metal at all in their vocal stylings. They all wear masks and don’t go by any names, instead referred to as “Nameless Ghouls” with the main guy being named Papa Emeritus III. Weird. The satanic lyricism sort of made me uncomfortable except for the fact it fit the aesthetic of this festival very nicely. And it sounded pretty kick ass. I’m not much of a metal fan but I rather enjoyed them.
Up next was stoner rock prince Mac DeMarco. The overflow of wide-brimmed hats that jammed towards the front of the stage was incredible. DeMarco played through a couple of favorites like “Let Her Go” and “The Way You’d Love Her,” before later crowdsurfing himself.
I did manage to catch a brief portion of rockabilly legend Wanda Jackson’s set at one of the indoor stages. She played a cover of Amy Winehouse’s “You Know I’m Good,” which was unexpectedly perfect. She mentioned it was Jack White’s idea when the two worked together on her 2011 album The Party Ain’t Over.
Up next was Grimes, quite easily the highlight and most-anticipated set of the evening. I’d been wanting to see her again ever since she blew my mind at FYF Fest last year. She’s been working on new tunes for a long time since 2012’s Visions, and on this night she debuted four new tracks, all which sounded pretty stellar. These new songs are much more dancey than some of her earlier work. “Be a Body” was one of the few songs I recognized, as did a large portion of the crowd. Grimes will be a can’t-miss show next month as part of Red Bull Sound Select’s #30DaysinLA – she plays the Regent Theater on Nov. 2.
They closed the photo pit access for some reason at this point, so I only caught Sir Mix-A-Lot’s set before heading out. He had half the stage full of people dancing while he rapped “Baby Got Back,” and that was my queue to leave. With The Growlers headlining both days of the fest, I’d leave covering them until day 2.
Words: Mark E. Ortega
Photography: Wes Marsala