Beach Goth abides by one rule: Dress up and have a good time. And baby, you sure did. The fifth year of The Growlers-curated boutique festival-o-rama returned to the Santa Ana Observatory fairgrounds October 22 and 23 for arguably its finest and strangest, if not most chaotic, year yet. The whole affair was decidedly less "goth" than "no parents."
The crowd of costumed and otherwise extravagantly-dressed fans transformed the suburban site, nestled between a Home Depot and a Kaiser Permanente corporate campus, into a sight as bizarre and diverse as its lineup—which was more or less the sonic equivalent of a first generation iPod thrown in a blender with some Blue Dream, body glitter, and fake blood, and stuffed into a piñata.
The hodgepodge included performances from Gucci Mane, Patti Smith, James Blake, Bon Iver, TLC, Nicolas Jaar, 2 Live Crew, RuPaul's Drag Race, HEALTH, Justice, Violent Femmes, Kali Uchis, Melanie Martinez, The Faint, RL Grime, DJ Quik, Hinds, and many more.
If Beach Goth's abbreviated 30-to-45 minute set times were frustrating, they were also a welcome reprieve from the traditional struggle of clashing set times. You could actually see most of the acts you wanted to. In theory, anyway. Leave it to our drought-stricken state to deliver a torrential downpour out of nowhere in the middle of Sunday, destroying all of Grimes' equipment, shutting down the second main stage, and sending the day's schedule into a tailspin amidst what was already an overcrowded, frustratingly laid-out space (this year's edition was supposed to go down at the more expansive Oak Canyon Park in Silverado, but was relocated to its old location at the last minute for reasons unknown).
Sad teens roamed the grounds, asking anyone they could find if Grimes would still be performing; confused adults flitted between the remaining stages, attempting to discern whether the performer was Grimes, RL Grime, or if there was a difference between the two. We're impressed the show went on at all. But it was fine. Everyone eventually went inside and danced their faces off to Sebastian and got transcendental with Nicolas Jaar.
Our trusty photographers Steven DeTray and David Coy were on hand to capture the Juggalos, anthropomorphic pizzas, excessive body glitter, pantsless dancing, and other madness that made up the strange, fun-as-heck trip that was Beach Goth V. Take a look at the sights and sounds below.