We Went To A Festival | Beach Goth 2016

Review & Photos   Elyse Mathes

The first problem was my sobriety. Maintaining a certain level of intoxication during a festival is like pacing yourself at Thanksgiving dinner: strategic. There is a method to the madness at music festivals and Beach Goth 2016 was madness. With HOMESHAKE drawing first blood on Saturday, and Nicolas Jaar wrapping up the festival Sunday, the moments to pursue liquor lines were few and far between.

It can’t all be milk and honey (If you want to know about the fun parts, wait.): The venue was packed. It was the most people per square festival meter I have ever witnessed. Park benches and tables vanished under the overflowing population of festivalgoers. That being said, if you take a quick breeze through the lineup, it is easy to understand why Beach Goth was a tin of sardines.

HOMESHAKE’s performance made me proud to be Canadian. The Montreal-based musician played a sexy little number Saturday afternoon. The next stand up performance was by Sagar’s tour companion, Jerry Paper, who, similar in sound, varies greatly in dance moves. If Steve Brule was an exceptional musician, his stage presence would parallel Paper’s. If you do not recognize any of the people mentioned above, please take a moment to reevaluate how you spend your free time.

The most raved about performance of the weekend, surprisingly enough, was Violent Femmes. Their set uncovered deeply suppressed nostalgia amongst festival attendees and turned a mild-tempered lot rather vicious. A mosh pit ensued that resulted in broken limbs and ambulances. Truly amazing.  A close second to Violent Femmes’ performance, and I must agree with this, was The Growlers. There are fans, and then there are fans of The Growlers. If someone were going to die for a spot in the front row, it would’ve happened during, “Going Gets Tough” on Saturday night.

In terms of music, the festival was incredibly successful. Even though TLC was lacking Left Eye, their show was full of energy and amazing choreography. King Krule balanced his angsty sound with an engaging stage presence. Inquisitive about how King Krule’s angsty sound would translate on stage, I was pleasantly surprised -- his performance was incredible in sound and presence. James Blake’s voice brought a girl to tears in the front row; her vocabulary consisted of “his voice” and “oh my god”.

I don’t think “Bon Iver” and “Saturday night” belong in the same sentence, but Bon Iver played the final slot on Saturday night nonetheless. When I listen to Bon Iver I want “Flume” and “For Emma” so I can cry into the arms of the person next to me. I assume that he was trying to keep the energy up and focused solely on his latest, more upbeat, persona.

The music started at the ungodly hour of noon on Sunday. I’m thankful that Humans, a Vancouver-based duo (and another proud moment for Canadian music), started my day off. La Femme followed with a performance in full costume, or partial costume in the case of guitarist Marlon Magnee, who gave the front row a peep show of what was under his dainty French maid lingerie.

Kali Uchis and Devandra Banhart were my Sunday highlights. The Columbian goddess put on an unbelievably sexy performance while Banhart’s smooth, Spanish lyrics paired accordingly with a gloomy turn in the weather.

As for the gloomy weather… it turned into a torrential downpour that the locals claimed had not happened in months. What timing! The Outdoor RX Stage flooded and sent the grounds into a panic. Good news, though – Nicolas Jaar’s performance was salvaged, and due to a lack of communication between festival planners and attendees, I was solo in the photo pit. It was lonely. As for Jaar’s show, I was slightly disappointed that I didn’t recognize any of his material (why you not play Colomb??), but it stayed true to his beautiful down-tempo South American sound and the crowd responded well.

Unfortunately, the weather was too wild for Grimes’ set, but she came out and gave a very sincere apology. Of course, the only article of clothing I purchased during the festival was her shirt.

The weekend was chock-full of amazing shows, but just for kicks, let’s wrap this up on a bad note: Beach Goth is over-stimulating. Your ears continuously thank you while your eyes bare witness to an endless sea of Barbie-pink-upside-down-crosses-on-foreheads and studded bikinis and your body is in constant contact with a drunk stranger while your nose is quietly plotting your demise. The festival could benefit from space in all aspects of the term: more time for performances and more room for people to feel more human and less herd-like.