As I arrive to the festival around 2 p.m., dark clouds are just settling in, casting a dismal shadow over The Observatory. I inhale— smelling tobacco, weed, and the promise of rain. Being an outdoor venue, you’d think I’d be worried, maybe even a bit agitated that it may rain, but all I could think about was how appropriate it is. The energy is so brooding, so grave, so Beach Goth.
I go in with three goals: see Devendra Banhart, see The Drums, and see Grimes.
Before reaching the stages (there are four, two inside and two outside), I have to pass through a ton pop-ups and food trucks, representing what I would assume to be the best local businesses in the OC.
I’m worried I’m going to miss Devendra Banhart, so I keep swimming. I don’t want these distractions, I just want the music. After asking numerous security guards, I finally find the photo pit for Devendra Banhart, who is playing on the main outdoor stage.
He and his crew are just setting up. My heart is pounding in anticipation. For those of you who do not know Devendra, he is an adorable Venezuelan-American singer and songwriter, best known for his unique style. He transitions from funky to melancholic and often incorporates Spanish into his lyrics. As if it were his cue, the rain begins just as Devendra does.
He opens with one of my favorites, “Won’t You Come Over” from his 2013 album, “Mala.” He does not have a large presence, standing still throughout the majority of the performance, but he doesn’t need to. His music is so ethereal, it’s like poetry.
The passion that exudes from his mouth and facial expressions seduce the audience. His voice is like butter and I am so mesmerized that I don’t even care that it’s now pouring rain and I am drenched.
Devendra Banhart passionately grasping his microphone during his performance.
My makeup is running down my face, and for one of the few times in my life, I don’t care how I look. I am just so lost in the music.
His set ended and I quickly snapped out of my trance and rushed the F out of this rain.
Due to the weather, all the sets are relocated inside, causing a hectic and confusing rearrangement and delays of schedule.
I make my way to the press pit and await one of my all-time favorites: The Drums, an indie band from New York. They begin and it’s like I’m listening to my itunes except better, because Jonny Pierce is ten feet away from me.
Now, he is a stage presence. His body moves effortlessly with the music as he pours his soul into the microphone. The dichotomy of their music is what makes it so intoxicating; the melody is upbeat and dynamic, while the lyrics are raw and profound.
He electrifies the crowd. Everyone is singing and dancing. Jonny Pierce hypnotized us all and we are adherent. They were absolutely flawless. Best set of the night, and if I had gone to the first day, I probably would have said best set of the festival.
I listened to some other DJ sets, albeit I’m not so into that music. It’s always enthralling to see how they can rouse and control the crowd. People really lose their shit during EDM performances.
But all I really want is Grimes. I’ve seen her once before and she curates the most badass beats, it’s electrifying. So I waited. And waited. And waited. The crowd is restless.
An hour after she was suppose to start, she comes out, as shy and adorable as ever. In her tiny voice, she apologizes for the delay and says that she will be unable to play because the rain destroyed all her equipment. Uncomfortable with her singing voice (her beats are what drives her music), she refused the numerous exclaims to play anyway.
I’m extremely disappointed, but it was almost midnight and I was just too exhausted to be upset.
Suffice to say, day two was amazing. Rain or shine, it’s hard to have a bad day when you’re surrounded by substances, food, and live music.