This weekend was The Growler’s fifth annual Beach Goth festival hosted by Eric Andre at The Observatory Orange County. The emerging hipster grunge festival definitely delivered in terms of a stacked line-up, but festival organizers may need to reevaluate their game plan to handle Beach Goth’s growing pains. Upon entering the festival Saturday afternoon it was very apparent the Observatory OC event grounds was way too small for their well curated line-up.
Despite some of the organizational hiccups, attendees still came in good spirits and decked out in their freakiest costumes. Saturday’s music line-up consisted of a more laid back indie grunge vibe with Violent Femmes, TLC, Melanie Martinez, James Blake, The Growlers and Bon Iver, on the bill. Amongst the sets we caught, TLC was definitely one of the most rare and special sets of the weekend. The American girl group gave the audience a perfect throwback set with their tomboy r&b vibe. They performed their hit singles “Waterfalls,” “Unpretty” and of course their infamous “No Scrubs,” fulfilling every nineties kids’ dream.
The first night ended on a nostalgic note, with beautiful back to back performances by James Blake and Bon Iver, two ethereal performers with amazing vocals. James Blake had to cancel his performance at Treasure Island Music Festival due to bad weather conditions, so it felt like redemption getting to finally see the London based electronic producer perform and his new live set since releasing his third studio album, “The Colour in Anything,” earlier this year.
Bon Iver, indie folk band lead by Justin Vernon, played a very emotional set. Their latest album, 22, A Million was released less than a month ago and marking a shift into a more glitch, experimental feel with special visuals for each song.
Sunday, brought rain showers early in the day that cause the festival to close their Outdoor RX Stage and scrambling last minute to accommodate set changes. Day 2, definitely branched out of Beach Goth’s typical indie rock vibe, appealing to the more underground dance music scene with acts like XXYYXX, Trippy Turtle, RL Grime, Nicolas Jaar and Justice filling up the Sunday slots.
Legendary French electronic duo, Justice, closed out the weekend on the main stage playing new singles off their upcoming album ‘Woman’ which is due for release, November 18. The duo is known for their funky, indie-and-rock infused electronic music, that is quite evident in “Safe and Sound” and “Randy” their latest singles.
After attending Treasure Island Music Festival earlier this month where the rain storm turned the entire festival into a puddle, I was hoping Beach Goth festival organizers and production may have taken notes. If an event says they will be going on ‘rain or shine’ they need to make sure that the venue and organizers are prepared to keep that promise for ticket holders, and communicate with them on any schedule changes or cancellations. When you have to pay for festival tickets, transportation and lodging, it’s disappointing to ticket holders when they planned their entire weekend and couldn’t see the music act of their choice.
At the end of the day Sunday, despite all of the hurdles festival organizers and performing artists went through. It was nice to see workers at the festival hustling to get the Outdoor RX stage back up and running after being flooded all day for RL Grime and Grime’s performance. Fans were stoked when RL Grime finally came on around, however, Grimes had to cancel due to her equipment being left out in the rain and damaged before she went on.
Overall, Beach Goth definitely has a lot of potential and I think they realized the magnitude of this festival is growing. Hopefully they take this year’s hardships and learn from them for next year!