Upon arriving at the large canyon where Pacific Festival: OC was situated, my first thought was “where is everyone?” Even though the festival had already been going on for about an hour before my photographer Tamea and I got there, there was no line getting in and barely anyone wandering around the grounds. We staked out the place, crossing through the main stage area, through the array of still-close food trucks, to a giant dirt lot pulsing with electronic beats.
Gotta Dance Dirty’s AROD was positioned in a colorful Teepee-of-a-stage and grooving to white headphones behind a laptop and a turntable or two. Everything felt like the wrong setting. The crowd was sparse and the sun was bright overhead in what looked plainly like a desert, but the tunes were dark, hot, and wet. AROD is the girl at the club who is drunk and sweaty but too far gone to care. The samples were a whirlwind of textures, never leaning too house or aggressive–just a good time. Or rather, it would have been given the right place and crowd. He was just a victim of festival scheduling, but still made a good impression.
Sneaking into the artist lounge to take a break from the sun and re-collect, we were happy to discover, THERE WAS HUMMUS. Once we had come up with a game plan, we set out for the Pacific stage where Superhumanoids was up next. (more…)
While Orange County tends to be known for the pop punk, screamo, emo, and other mosh-inducing genres that thrive at renowned venues like Chain Reaction in Anaheim, the second annual Pacific Festival: OC is doing it’s best to battle the stereotypes. For the second year, the festival will be conjuring an “upscale” music event, featuring artists of all genres as well as a wide range of food and drinks, art installations, and local business vendors. While last year the festival found a home in the small courtyard and venues of the Triangle Square complex in Costa Mesa, this year the rising event will set up camp in Oak Canyon Ranch in Irvine. It’s nestled in the Santa Ana Mountains where there are over one hundred acres that border the old reservoir and are surrounded by hills, oak trees, a little pond, and a big lake. Sounds like a perfect spot for over 50 artists and 14 hours of music on 5 stages.
Headlining acts include the illustrious hip-hop mainstay and Long Beach resident Snoop Dog, Atlanta blues-tinged garage rock quartet Black Lips, internationally renowned Australian “indietronic” trio Cut Copy, and Newport-Beach-raised electro/house musician, producer, and label-founder Steve Aoki. Even just judging by those four, it’s easy to see the organizers have done a good job of balancing the genres on the bill. You will find a fair amount of DJs, house, and dance musicians, including France’s dance musician Alan Braxe, British electronic group Zoot Woman, and French house producer Fred Falke, but they’ve also pulled in some great indie acts like The Growlers, Phantogram, Superhumanoids, and Hanni El Khatib. …And then there’s Afroman, who will get his own category entirely.
Whether house or rock or somewhere in between, the festival has done a great job of showcasing the local talent. As you’re preparing to head to Pacific Festival this weekend, take a minute to preview a few of the great Southern California acts that will be in attendance.
Superhumanoids @superhumanoids (1:45-2:45 p.m. @ PACIFIC STAGE)
Self-described as “music to help kiss the doldrums away,” the Los Angeles quartet Superhumanoids “makes dreamy pop that shouts summery ’60s harmonies, garage rock’s raw tonality, slick new-wave electronics, and the adventurous dissonance of ’90s indie rock.” Cameron, Sarah, Max, and Evan have together released two EPs (Urgency, July 13, 2010 and Paradise Paradise, April 12, 2011) and a two-track 7-inch, released on June 21, 2011.
Hanni El Khatib @hannielkhatib (4:35-5:35 @ PACIFIC STAGE)
Los Angeles multi-instrumentalist/singer/songwriter/producer Hanni El Khatib is totally off the beaten path and not what you would expect from the name. He’s the son of Palestinian and Filipino immigrants and his music is inspired by his obsession with classic Americana and pop culture of the 1950s and 60s mixed with his past as an avid skateboarder. To borrow (and alter) how the bio describes the band, “his sound is like the rock soundtrack to a glass-shattering knife-wielding dirty bar brawl between…” Clint Eastwood and Black Lips. Khatib’s debut full-length Will The Guns Come Out will be released on September 27th on Innovative Leisure.
The Growlers @theGROWLERS (2:10-3:10 p.m. @ MAIN STAGE)
The Growlers from Costa Mesa are exactly what you might expect from an Orange County band 50 years ago. They’re a lot of 60s surf rock, a good helping of classic rock n’ roll, and a pinch of “pre-punk.” They claim to explore everything from “ice-flossing hip-hop to psychedelic rock.” The second I have to see.
American Royalty @AMRCNRYLTY (3:10-4:10 @ PACIFIC STAGE)
American Royalty is not a 30 second listen. They should not be easily slotted into genre A or B, which may make them a bit less palatable to some, but they kick major ass. The Los Angeles 3-pieces fuses psychedelic rock, electronic house, indie rock sensibilities, and harmonies of front men Billy Scher and Marc Gilfry. For what would normally be a complete disaster, American Royalty’s innovation is a stroke of genius. “Guitars, samplers, 2 singers, drums, synths, whiskey, beer…A never ending showdown of genres.” Can’t wait to see these guys live.
Poolside @poolside_music (4:35-5:35 @ LAKESIDE)
Created in their pool house/recording studio, the Los Angeles friends Filip “Turbotito” Nikolic (of Ima Robot) and Jeffrey Paradise make sweet hazy dream pop electro. It sounds like an afternoon pool party or, as they so aptly describe, “day time disco.” The perfect noise to listen to lakeside at Pacific Festival.
Brady Miller (Wyo Stars) (12:55-1:45 p.m. @ Main Stage)
Miller calls himself a weird dude. He’s played in a million bands, including Wyo Stars, and has been a touring member of Money Mark. He made some music in the dark abyss of his home studio, which he’s debuting at Pacific Festival. He’ll be releasing some of the music he’s recorded as his first solo record in the near future, but only a select few (and by that I mean the thousands at the fest) will have the chance to say they saw his first show. Some looping, filtered vocals, feedback, and pedals, add some talent and ingenuity, and I’d say we’re looking forward to a pretty solid show.
AROD @gottadancedirty (11 AM – 12:45 PM @ LAKESIDE)
To represent a bit of the DJ scene that will be prevalent at Pacific Fest, I’ve picked out one of my favorite DJ’s from the Southland on the lineup. From Santa Barbara and an editor and DJ for the blog Gotta Dancy Dirty, AROD avoids the classic house- and trance-like clichés with the repetitive beats and runs more along the lines of what he considers to be a fusion of “French house, dance punk and electroclash sounds of the early 2000s.” He’s innovative and creates completely dance-inducing beats, using vocal samples to support the melody. Makes perfect sense that he’s opened for Temper Trap, Sleigh Bells, Delorean, and Glass Candy. “His defining electronic dance music moment came in the 7th grade when he stole his big sister’s New Order t-shirt, wore it proudly to class & made all the goth girls swoon.”