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Costumed indie bands rock a rowdy festival

Brooks Nielsen, vocalist of the Growlers, performed on Oct. 24, 2015. (Telescope Staff/The Telescope)


A front man grabs a surfboard and jumps off stage, literally crowd surfing. A flamboyant singer in clown-like make up launches confetti from his umbrella. A hip hop artist solicits weed onstage in front of an ocean of fans and proceeds to offer liquor to the crowd saying: “Jucy J is gonna get y’all fucked up.”

This is what the Beach Goth music festival is about.

Innumerable bohemian individuals gathered during the weekend of the Oct. 24 at The Observatory in Santa Ana for the fourth annual Beach Goth music festival, which is arguably the biggest assembly for them of the year, rivaled only by the Burgerama music festival.

Beach Goth (and Burgerama) is the holy grail of surf, rockabilly and psychedelic rock in California. This two-day event featured a multitude of bands who played at different sections of the venue simultaneously from 12:30 p.m. to well past midnight. What makes Beach Goth different from many music festivals is the fact that it is essentially a crazy Halloween costume party.

Concertgoers are encouraged to dress up, and to say that they do so with enthusiasm is an understatement.

Notable costumes include movie characters with a cult following: Mia and Jules from Pulp Fiction, Kung Fury from the movie of the same name, a man who was nearly identical to Bruce Lee dressed in the iconic yellow and black jump suit, and various main characters from Reservoir Dogs.

Some costumes were a bit more avant-garde, including a speedo-clad man running around with an blow-up shark, a person with a penis helmet, a woman with no bra and a very see through blouse and individuals sporting ‘6669’ on their foreheads.

By 3 p.m. on Saturday, many bands had already played, but Beach Goth had just begun. Together Pangea, the first band with a name that carries weight, was up to play. Their faster songs espoused the idea that everyone was out to have fun, as they began to jump up and down in unison and jammed to the groovy beats of the beachy rock band.


Following up were the Aquabats, a horror punk rock band reminiscent of the Misfits. They sported black skin tight suits, goggles and swim caps as if to acknowledge that they were not to be taken seriously. The Aquabats are both meta and comedic in their songs, teasing at the conventions in punk rock in their performances. The front man concluded the act by diving off stage with a surfboard and riding the crowd.

Mac Demarco was up at 8 p.m.

Demarco is likely the second biggest artist who played at Beach Goth, second only to the The Growlers. The audience was packed like sardines waiting for Demarco to play. Demarco walked on stage and first made reference to the crazy, drug-fueled fans before getting down to business.

One may expect Demarco’s performance to be fast paced and hectic, but the opposite is true of his music. Demarco’s music is chill and relaxing, mellow and light. The blue stage lights lit the stage and the audience swayed with the songs playing. A few lighters waving in the air further accented the vibrant slowness perpetuated by the show. The entire ordeal was exactly as Mac Demarco carried himself: cool.

After Demarco concluded his act, The Growlers were up to play. The band was dressed in primarily black skeleton costumes and skeletal face paint, but bassist Anthony Perry wore a scarecrow costume. The audience seemed to know every lyric to their songs as they repeated every word that singer Brooks Nielsen sang verbatim. The band was mesmerizing and the audience was in a trace as they rocked about participating in the psychedelic mayhem. The show was concluded due to a curfew, which left fans disappointed as they chanted “ONE MORE SONG.”

All in all, the event caters to freaks. These freaks love being freaks and gather together in their eccentricity to listen to music to match their style and have fun.

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Costumed indie bands rock a rowdy festival