Photos by Linnea Stephan
Shrouded in mystery, Beach Goth 2019 landed in Hollywood and hung around for a minute, quickly crawling away before the weekend had even begun.
A lot can happen in three nights. There was a marriage proposal, youths enjoying the all-ages access, and the iconic 69 Boyz dancing harder than a pack of prima ballerinas. With a lineup as eclectic as the costumes, the festival’s tagline of ‘two nights of heaven in hell’ proved to be accurate.
No longer held in close proximity to the beach, Beach Goth has relocated in recent years, this year finding its way to Hollywood Palladium. The event kicked off with a free party outside the venue. We’re talkin’ mezcal, face painting, a Mardi Gras-themed funhouse, photo opps and food trucks (LA cannot resist). Someone named Adrian proposed to his vampire Vanessa at a picnic table in the parking lot beer garden. All is fair in love and war.
Facts and figures aside, let’s get into the visuals. Picture this: Beach Goth is a costume party full of SoCal teenagers. Sad, old school Angelino clowns and Dia de los Muertos ensembles were the most popular looks. Popcorn and dollar store hairspray wafted through the air.
Attendees were told that the show would start at seven, but no other details were provided. Australia’s own Skeggs opened up the night, with a whole lot of ‘I reckon’ on the mic and smiles on stage, shredding through a quick opening set that got people moving.
Up next were the wild and wonderful Black Lips. To preface my own personal bias, I have listened to their Arabia Mountain album thousands of times. I adore it. Tonight the Black Lips sounded like friends around a bonfire drunkenly howling and I’m not sure if that’s because that’s essentially who they truly are, or because of the 20-minute soundcheck beforehand never really sorting itself out (at no fault of the band). Either way, it wouldn’t have been opening night without them.
The surprises keep coming, and next was Jamaican icon Lee Scratch Perry. Bass was sent booming up Sunset Ave, and the third saxophone of the night made its appearance on a stage covered in flowers, incense and pomegranates. This was my favourite set, with long, perfectly trippy tunes that blasted through the crowd. LSP is an elder to be respected.
Fourth to take the stage were the 69 Boyz. What an absolute joy it was to look over my shoulder from the photo pit, where audience members’ jaws were dropping at the realisation that there were men three times their age absolutely cutting a rug onstage. With larger-than-life antics and a full-dance battle, 69 Boyz closed their act with 12-foot tall transformer characters onstage and illuminated suits.
And now, the moment ya’ll have been waiting for… the Growlers! Fans were more than ready; as the hours ticked closer to midnight the venue got more and more packed. In full Halloween costume, the band greeted the crowd with wild enthusiasm and began their lengthy setlist. Lee Scratch Perry came out about four songs in, brought out by vocalist Brooks and welcomed by the curious, dedicated crowd who seems to trust this band with any decision, large or small. The band never plays their old songs the same way, blessing ears with nuanced, alternative takes. The Growler’s decision to go independent and to keep throwing their own parties, their own way, could be deeply felt, shining like a damn Jack-o-lantern on Halloween night for all us Hollywood freaks to see.
For all you mega nerds, here’s the setlist we caught on Friday:
Heaven In Hell
Hiding Under Covers
Long Hot Night
Dope on a Rope
Drop Yer Phone
Not the Man
Pet Shop Eyes
One Million Lovers
People Don’t Change
Die and Live Forever