“Do you guys wanna try something weird?” The crowd cheered as FIDLAR singer/guitarist Zac Carper spoke into the microphone.
“Alright I need full participation. Are you guys ready?” A devilish smirk fell on Carper’s face as he addressed the hundreds of fans watching the band perform at this year’s Beach Goth music festival.
"Everybody SIT DOWN!” There was murmuring in the air as fans, unsure of what to do, scanned the crowd. One by one, fans complied and sat down, giggling like little kids. “Now you guys just chill there and you will know when to stand up.”
As this was going on, the garage punk band kept playing the same riff over and over in the background. As more people sat down, the music became progressively intense and louder, reaching a crescendo. The music had a hypnotizing effect: at that climactic moment, the crowd jumped simultaneously and there was a release. People were moshing in the pit to FIDLAR’s “Cocaine,” a frenzied tale about sex and drugs, the last song in the band’s set.
Welcome to the island of misfit toys. Beach Goth, the local mini music festival created by the dreamy surf/psych rock band The Growlers, has garnered lots of attention ever since its inception in 2012. Held annually at the Observatory in Santa Ana, Beach Goth is a two day gathering where music and fashion are celebrated and the freaks come out to play—you have everyone from beach bums to pastel Goths to cholos, all under one roof.
Held on October 24 and 25, most saw this event as a pre-Halloween bash and showcased their costumes. Beach Goth is famous for not only its eclectic music but fashion as well. It was not uncommon to see things like Sailor Moon chatting it up with a giant taco or a nun partying it up by the beer garden. Some people kept it casual with festival wear, others stuck with the Beach Goth theme by wearing black clothes and makeup, and some went totally retro, even going with the 1960s go-go dancer feel. Wigs flew in mosh pits and a guy with an alien blow up doll crowd surfed one set. There was a little bit of everything and it was a treat to see a Ninja Turtle roam the venue to fetch some pizza at the food court area.
Art installations were scattered throughout the area. Piñatas in the shape of objects such as cacti and pills hung from streamers. A mini graveyard was displayed with headstones with phrases like, “OD’D ON WEED” and a gigantic skeleton hand making the shaka sign towered above. A fake school bus was painted with a friendly looking skeleton lounging out. There were plenty of hidden art pieces for people to discover.
This year’s Beach Goth was the biggest to date. The Observatory’s two indoor venues were used and a massive outdoor stage was set up by the blacktop outside with a smaller stage nearby. Neater set times allowed for guests to catch all their favorite acts more easily, and most of the headliners took over the main stage. Day one had major acts such as all girl indie rock band Warpaint, indie pop quartet The Drums, mellow yet eccentric singer-songwriter Mac DeMarco, and synth-pop singer Grimes, who debuted two new songs from her newly-released album.
Day two was an incredible mix of genres and acts. Juicy J started the afternoon off right rapping his party anthems while passing out shots to those fans in the pit. FIDLAR played an adrenaline induced show, followed by an intimate set by The Strokes frontman Julian Casablancas and the Voidz. Beach Goth turned into a rager when South African rap-rave group Die Antwoord came on stage. Their mesmerizing energy drove the crowd wild with songs like “I fink U freeky” and “Enter the Ninja.” The Growlers played both nights to a mass of pumped up concert goers. The Growlers’ 1960’s psych pop sound swayed the crowd as they played favorites like “Someday,” “One Million Lovers,” and “Humdrum Blues.” Singer Brooks Nielsen was joined onstage on night two by Julian Casablancas and the two performed an incredible cover of The Doors’ “People Are Strange.” Towards the end of the festival, the Growlers graced fans with an encore, making it the perfect end to the night.
Beach Goth 4 was a hit and proved yet again the power that artists have when collaborating to put on a successful event. With such a diverse lineup and psychedelic atmosphere, fans are already anticipating the fifth installment of the music festival. With Beach Goth, the Growlers delivered an experience that people will never forget, leaving them eager for more. Until next time boys.
Article & Photos by Jackie Castaneda.