When it rains, it pours and while neither of these things typically happen in Southern California, Beach Goth Five was an exception to the rule.
Before I drown you in splashy idioms about Sunday’s weather, let’s recall this year’s insane lineup: Patti Smith, Violent Femmes, TLC, Bon Iver, and Future Islands to name a few. What started out as a local surf-rock show and costume party hybrid has blown out into a circus which left the Observatory bursting at the seams.
Next in the rotation, an authentic and youthful break in the stage’s rotation of old favorites. The sunshine fell away and someone climbed high into a tree. Actually, terrifyingly high in the tree. It was beautiful. Patti Smith stunned us with all our favorites and a cover of My Generation, by The Who. Smith commanded the crowd to use their voices and vote, her voice bellowing out into the night, “Raise your arms. Feel your freedom. You are naked and fucking free!” Between the smoky indoor stages and the light show outside, DJ Quik, James Blake, and Bon Iver floated us through the rest of the night. I was sober and yet I don’t really remember leaving the venue, my satisfied and sleepy knees on autopilot to carry me home.
Sunday started off with La Femme and then Gucci Mane, who performed mid-afternoon and brought the rain. Real rain. I’m from the Midwest and was surprised to see it hold up for more than 10 minutes. 20 minutes go by and it’s starting to get cold. In my peripheral someone is fist-pumping into the air with their crutches, leaning heavily on the other one while a puddle forms around him. The air is smoky and intoxicating. Sadly, one downpour wasn’t only the downfall of the festival, but also the fact that the only free water was the raging garbage river. Being young and broke doesn’t allow you to willingly factor in three dollars precious cash for every plastic bottle of water you (should have) drank. No one who is trying to score a beer is gonna miss an opportunity by buying water instead. By the way, this bit is an environmentalist rant disguised as partying.
I skipped the Kirkland aqua for a PBR and cruised over to Devendra Banhart. What a sweet set. He played in the rain, droplets glittering around the band illuminated by the golden stage lighting. He told the audience to huddle and keep each other warm. It was hard to leave the Dome Stage (main stage) for the rest of Sunday, considering the acts that followed. UMO brought out an incredible stage presence, female drum solos and back-up harmonizing vocalists making a cameo in their plain clothes, instead of any cheesy stage garb. Future Islands is hard to comment on because it was so damn amazing. I tried to recreate vocalist Sam’s dance moves and physically couldn’t. On top of dancing like a mad man, he chewed on his arm, slapped himself across the face, and growled and grimaced to the crowd’s complete delight.
Rumors began to soar about Grimes moving stages and ultimately canceling. We talked to some girls in the front of the crowd who have been in that exact corner for eight hours. No food or water needed, this is the power of youth. A lone Growler walks out, teasing the audience with his appearance, only to announce that the set has been pushed back 30 minutes due to soaked equipment. Several couples against the front rail have fallen asleep on top of each other. After more patient waiting, The Growlers return to their adoring crowd and everyone is ripped from their dream state to enjoy the remaining hours of Beach Goth. Check out a full photo gallery below.