POV: PROS + CONS OF BEACH GOTH
What Happened at Beach Goth? An Opinion
by: Christina Ferraro
You’ve seen all over social media – the good, the bad, the ugly – of what happened at Beach Goth 2016. Here’s what went down during day one, from the perspective of someone who is vertically challenged and happened to have a ton of wristbands on (which ended up meaning absolutely nothing)
The Growlers – No matter what they do, in my eyes, the Growlers will always be, the Growlers and they can do no wrong. I stumbled upon them when I was in early middle school going through my classic rock phase, and I’ve been listening to them religiously ever since. They’re considered hometown heroes, and they are older siblings to a lot of the people I grew up with. Their signature sound and quirky stage presence is what makes them unique to the culture of Southern California. They’re synonymous with Burger Records, The Observatory, and Orange County music culture and the like and whenever people hear that I’m from Newport Beach, they usually ask if I’ve heard of them. I missed their set due to the fact that this festival was completely overcrowded (which I’ll explain in the Cons section) but I had to give them credit for creating this cultural phenomenon, which in years past, has been incredible.
Sadgirl – If you were very first in line on the first day of Beach Goth, and you were able to catch Sadgirl play the main stage, you were incredibly lucky and probably had a great time. Like I said earlier, I started the weekend off with a VIP pass and a 21+ wristband, so I was pulled in early and caught the entirety of their set. Otherwise, you were subject to the ridiculously long security line and probably missed their set due to poor timing. The band had to start right as doors opened in order to avoid going over on time, so people were trickling in during their set, which was unfortunate, but they powered through it and blew me away. Their sound is reminiscent of the days when the Beach Goth lineup was truly representative of ‘beach’-y surf rock music as well as ‘goth’ and was one of the best bands I saw the whole day. Lead singer Misha Lindez has a mesmerizing stage presence, and maintains a strong visual aesthetic while performing, with a single red rose intertwined to the microphone stand as he plays a powder pink vintage Fender guitar. The band successfully blends the sounds of melancholy, doo-wop ballads of the 1950s as well as fuzzy garage rock, while also using heavy rock riffs and even aspects of thrash-y surf punk, overall creating a unique and signature sound that I can’t get enough of.
Hinds – Having never seen Hinds before I was interested to see how they sounded live and their stage energy was unreal. I overheard the soundboard manager say “Are they always like this?” followed by muffled screaming as the four young ladies from Spain stormed the stage with an unbelievable amount of energy despite admitting they were hung-over from their Echo show the night before.
The Crowd [at first] – Despite the heat and lack of water, people were in good spirits. Not everybody was in costume, but everybody seemed to be having a nice time. (At least during the first half of the day) and most everybody I met were happy to be there, and I met a very nice girl who had snuck in a glass pipe inside her bun (which I found impressive, but also showed how fluid security was) and had told me how she had gone to Burgerama (Burger Records’ festival held at the Observatory with a similar lineup) before and was excited for the weekend ahead despite it being so hot. People were also willing to help out, for an example, when I asked where people were getting set time brochures, a kind dude just gave me his saying he would get himself another later.
Chicano Batman – I’ve been dying to see Chicano Batman for the past year or so, so I was really looking forward to seeing them, but as the sun began to engulf the street and the shade began to diminish, it was starting to grow unbearably hot. Later that night, I realized I came back with a sunburn and it was because of the 30 minutes I spent baking in the sun during their set. It was so worth it though – Chicano Batman was one of the few bands that actually had rhythm and played soul music and although there were a couple of naysayers behind me – “Dude, fuck this, you can see them for free in, like, Pasadena, or at the Echo, every fucking year” who ended up succumbing to the heat, they were totally worth getting a sunburn for. My view wasn't too great for them, since I was trying to stay in the shade of the trees but obviously the sun kept moving, but it was worth it just to hear them perform live which sounded unreal.
Patti Smith – After leaving to get food (after about an hour and a half wait time and time it took me to eat and find a place to sit the VIP area) and seeing a little bit of TLC, I found myself in bit of a predicament – I had to use the restroom. I could either, use the porta-potties in the VIP area and wait twenty minutes, or I could wait even longer and use a real toilet inside the Observatory and try to refill my water bottle in the sink. In doing this, I would miss out on most of Patti Smith’s set. So, I did what I had to do, and surprisingly made it back within 30 minutes for Patti’s set. She was fantastic, although the crowd was not (see, Cons). She chanted about how fantastic the energy of Beach Goth was and about how great this generation was and sang “My Generation” and it was magical.
Location – When my friend texted me 30 minutes before doors asking me what city Oak Canyon Park was in, it was a testament to the apparent lack of communication between the ticketholders and the organizers of the festival. I saw posters that were still being circulated days before the show with the wrong location listed on it, and just knew that this was going to be a mess.
Set time conflicts – Not only were there horrible set time conflicts, the long gaps between bands were unbearable. I wished I could’ve taken a 4 hour nap in between bands, but there was no where to go, no where to sit let alone lie down. I also felt that most of the bands that I wanted to see were on Sunday, leaving Saturday somewhat sparse, which was unfortunate because I ended up not returning on Sunday.
The heat - There’s obviously nothing that the organizers could’ve done about this, but come on? Only one water fountain for thousands of people to have to rely on for hydration located inside the Observatory? And $3 waters cash only? That’s criminal; to wait for people to pass out before giving them water. I was able to sneak in my refillable water bottle thinking that I could just go inside to refill my bottle but there was a line that was a minimum 30 minute wait to refill it, and there was no way I could wait in it and they wouldn't refill it at the bar. At least at The Observatory there’s an Urgent Care right next door.
Cost – Now, luckily I didn't have to pay to get into Beach Goth, but for the poor souls that did, it was a major let down. At one point, they stopped letting people in and out of the Constellation Room and Observatory, preventing people from accessing the water fountain, some of the bathrooms, and there was a line similar to Disneyland. So, if you wanted to see a band inside, you had to get in line and probably miss out on whomever you came to see, which isn’t fair if you spent $200+ on parking and a ticket. I had my friend drop me off at the festival after seeing the ridiculous prices for parking, given that I live all of 15 minutes away from the Observatory and had planned on having her pick me up afterwards but I ended up taking a Lyft back using the official Beach Goth Lyft Code (which also didn't work because cars weren’t allowed to pick you up in front of the Observatory since the street was closed down)
The Crowd [towards the end of the night] – Partially due to the location, they oversold the festival by thousands of tickets. They should’ve stopped selling tickets as soon as they knew that the venue was to change from Oak Canyon to The Observatory because I realized by the time Patti Smith’s set had ended, I couldn’t breathe within the crowd and I had to bite (yes, you read that) people’s arms to get them off of me and rip girl’s fringed vests off of my jacket, loosing pins off my jacket (still upset about that, by the way) in order to get out of the pit where people were just pushing for fun and just to get out of the festival in general. I’m not one to have panic attacks, but I’m pretty sure that's what I had inside that pit because I couldn’t breathe, and it triggered a migraine and I ended up going home and never went back. It was a major disappointment, since I waited around most of the day just to see the Growlers. As I found myself walking out of the festival I thought, what if I had fainted inside that pit? There would’ve been no way of getting help and there were no medical people to be seen and I never saw a medical tent. I took a picture of the crowd from a random ramp that they had set up behind the sound booth of the sheer number of people that they had let in and after taking that photo I decided it was time to get a Lyft home and call it a night.