Beach Goth combines Halloween with wide-ranging music

Crowded OC festival’s fourth year ripens with disorganized fun.


Photo courtesy of Anne Marie Larson

Anne Marie Larson, Writer

Metallic streamers and strings of piñatas in various shapes: cacti, pill capsules and even Donald Trump strung from trees across The Observatory’s grounds this weekend at Beach Goth, a strange and chaotic two-day festival in Santa Ana. Due to difficulty finding free parking not light-years away, I arrived later than I wanted, but still in time to catch English punk band The Adicts on the main Beach Goth stage.

Eclectic Line-Up

It may have been hot, but everyone looked great, albeit sweaty. Many festival goers favored a ‘90s grunge look or donned Halloween costumes and extravagant festival wear, though no Coachella-esque flower crowns could be found. Truly, Beach Goth had an eclectic line-up as the next band I saw was The Aquabats, who seemed to cater to the younger audience by playing a few covers and modern rock originals instead of their ska classics.

Rather than venturing inside The Observatory to check out the two indoor stages, “The Graveyard” or “Outer Space,” I elected to hang out a bit, which proved challenging due to insufficient lounging space. Pooped festival goers squatted amongst cigarette butts on the asphalt in what is usually The Observatory’s parking lot. Joining them, I sat back and people watched while listening to Warpaint perform on the main stage.


As a whole, Beach Goth was unorganized — set times were not released until two days before the festival, and each set ran anywhere from 15 to 20 minutes behind.

The evening cooled down, and I caught The Drums, whose synthy sound, punctuated by trilling ooh’s, made for an enjoyable listen. Crowd favorite Mac Demarco delivered his signature twinkly tunes, and Grimes kept it weird with her baby alien vocals.

I finally ventured inside The Observatory to see rockabilly queen Wanda Jackson. The 78-year-old tottered on the blacklight lit, skull emblazoned stage in pink fringe and diamonds to an adoring and supportive crowd, who was probably surprised she was not dead, much less yodelling. Badbadnotgood, an energetic jazzy trio and my favorite set of the festival, graced The Graveyard stage shortly after. My night concluded with headliner The Growlers, who gave a spooky crooning performance, which they would repeat the following night.

Day Two

For me, day two began with Juicy J, Julian Casablancas and FIDLAR. Through flailing arms and stomping legs in FIDLAR’s pit, I glimpsed a dollar bill on the ground and refrained from picking it up because my life is worth more than a McDouble. Arguably the most entertaining set, hip-hop duo Die Antword’s crazy stage antics kept the crowd amped as they hopped non-stop while spitting vulgar lyrics.

On the small Outer Space stage, Charlie Megira rocked his creepy moustache, sunglasses and surf sound. I made my way out of The Observatory to catch the last part of The Growlers. The crowd reveled, swaying to the psychedelic garage rock, completely inebriated and having a great time.

Totally Beach Goth

Saturated with music and the sight of smoking fifteen year olds, I staggered from the festival, praying my car had not been towed. It was not, and I sped to Newport in my all-black outfit because, like The Growlers, I am totally Beach Goth.

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