I was almost ready to go, the line-up of Beach Goth 2016 sounded interesting: The Growlers (the band behind the festival), Bon Iver, James Blake, Patti Smith, Violent Femmes, Grimes, Justice… and tons of other artists took part to the Orange County festival last weekend. Unfortunately or may be fortunately, I had another call, the Rolling Stones in Las Vegas, so I obviously forgot about Beach Goth. However, it seems that things didn’t go very smoothly.
According to the OC Weekly and many other sources, dissatisfaction and anger about the 2-day event are all you can read on social media. May be because of a last minute change of venue — the festival moved from Oak Canyon Ranch to the Observatory — the place was too small for the ambitious festival. I have been at the Observatory a few times, and in particular during a few Burgerama events and I can tell you that the venue doesn’t handle a large crowd very well. You can seriously question many security issues when you enter the place and when you are stuck in a single line file and don’t see the end of it. And when big acts like Bon Iver and James Blake are playing, you have to expect a large crowd. At Beach Goth, the parking lot was overcrowded, the toilets were overflowed and drinking water was lacking. Plus the security has some issues, I have witnessed it every time I have been to the Observatory, the security crew can be rude and aggressive, whereas the inside of the venue is strange and even dangerous. Thus, incidents like this one (security guards did beat up a few guys) are hardly surprising. At the top of this, it was raining on Sunday, although it never rains in California! What a mess this must have been. and to finish up, the 2-day pass being between between $150 to 175, we are not talking about small money.
The Growlers, who had organized the festival, have issued a statement, but considering the lack of acknowledgement of the mayhem which took place, this hasn’t calmed down the fans:
‘To all who attended Beach Goth this weekend,
We saw it in your eyes. We hear you. We feel you. We want to sincerely thank you for supporting us – and each other – at this year’s festival.
We started Beach Goth in 2012 and have watched it grow into a strange and beautiful party larger than we could have ever imagined. After last year’s Beach Goth, we reflected on some of the challenges we experienced, and we set out to create a better festival for our fans in 2016. We wanted low ticket prices, a peaceful space for fans to hang out, quality food and drink options, and creative and thoughtful art and vendors. We settled on the beautiful Oak Canyon Park: we toured the space, planned the festival of our dreams and got beyond excited to share a new venue for Beach Goth with you. In the months that followed, as we recorded our new album and continued to tour, the plans shifted, due to various reasons, many of which were beyond our control. Eventually Beach Goth was moved back to the Observatory grounds.
We witnessed so many amazing things at this year’s fest. The spontaneous dance party that broke out during Future Islands’ set, right after the rain stopped. The guys who carried their ladies over the puddles. Meeting those of you in person who traveled wild distances to be a part of the adventure. Hearing Patti Smith say the words “Beach Goth!” to a crowd of thousands. In the past 48 hours, we’ve listened to your comments on email and social media, and we’re taking your words to heart. If we invite you to a show or party again, it will be for the fans first and foremost. We want you to feel the love that we have for you.
In the words of Saturday night’s legendary headliner Patti Smith, “People have the power / the power to dream, to rule / to wrestle the earth from fools.” Let’s stand up for what we believe and make a future experience that we can all be proud of.
With love and respect,
‘Did you witness my friend getting her hair pulled by security?’ wrote back an attendee. ‘Did you witness another friend getting choked out because he had a go pro? Did you witness security basically locking people inside and breaking every fire code violation possible? Did you witness there were zero water stations? Did you witness someone basically start a stampede prior to She Wants Revenge playing? Did you witness women getting their breasts over searched in the security line? Did you witness security selling garbage bags to people when it started raining? Did you witness a festival being over sold? Did you witness there was only two fucking lines for will call on day one causing people to wait hours for tix that should’ve been sent in the mail? Y’all fucked this one up.’
Not all the comments are like this one, but there are a lot of them, and people are so angry, that some attendees have even started a petition to get a refund to the event,… this sounds awful:
‘Beach Goth 2016 was moved to a much smaller venue two weeks before the event date. The smaller venue was totally oversold – there were so many people everyone needed to push through crowds in order to move anywhere, there was nowhere to sit in the whole venue, there was only one water fountain, people were getting sick and injured in the crowd throughout the day, and in case of an emergency requiring evacuation the staff and venue would have been totally unprepared for and overwhelmed by the number of people on site. Given the change in circumstances for the venue, anyone who purchased an original ticket before the venue change should be refunded or offered compensation in the form of Observatory ticket credit equal to the Beach Goth ticket price.’
All these are serious accusations, and probably many disturbing videos will surface as everyone has an iPhone in his or her pocket these days. Plus, when you charge $30 to 50 to park on site, I simply call that theft!
The Growlers are definitively becoming big, they have even enrolled Julian Casablancas to produce their forthcoming album ‘City Club’, which is due on September 30th via The Strokes frontman’s own Cult Records… but they must be really stressed out right now, and they surely need to find a much better location with a more organized management for their next Beach Goth.
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