Inaugural Darker Waves Music Festival Proves Sunny Southern California Is America’s Gothic Capital

The first annual Darker Waves post-punk music festival took place on Saturday, November 18, on the sands of Huntington Beach, California, occupying two sprawling oceanfront blocks in the famed surf city of Pacific Coast Highway.Order plays Joy Division’s “Love Will Tear Us Apart”; Echo and the Bunnymen’s laryngitis-stricken Ian McCulloch rasps through Donnie Darko– The popular “Killing Moon” and his band lost boy Cover of Doors’ ‘People Are Strange’ soundtrack with surprise guest Robbie Krieger; Soft Cell screams electronic BDSM fantasy”sexual dwarf”; a tunic-clad, dark-eyed Philip Oakey intones the Human League’s 1978 proto-synth-pop classic “Being Boiled” against a backdrop of swaying palm trees and crashing waves that, to the uninitiated, might sound like will be surprised.

But the truth is, sunny Southern California has always had a dark side.

In the 1980s, a death rock scene emerged in Los Angeles, inspired by the declining glamor of Old Hollywood and led by Christian Death and 45 graves (Both played “Darker Waves” this weekend). During that same decade, KROQ was the first American radio station to play and support the aforementioned British new wave acts, all of which still have loyal listeners in Los Angeles and Orange County. (The fact that bands like Depeche Mode and the Cure can still sell out the Hollywood Bowl on consecutive nights is a direct result of KROQ’s decades of unwavering support.) Today, goths from all over the world People flocked to Disneyland, not far from Disneyland. Huntington Beach, OC hosts its annual Bat Day celebration, while Los Angeles is home to a thriving post-punk/industrial scene led by bands like Darker Waves cold cave, earthy brown majestyand Mahler.

Los Angeles has also successfully hosted the post-punk music festival Cruel World for two consecutive years (this year’s feature is Goth icon Siouxsie Sioux performs first US concert in 15 years), as 25,000 black-clad, pancake-faced, SPF 100-slathered fans descend on Darker Waves this weekend, it’s revealed that Southern California is the goth capital of America.

Fans wearing satirical costumes at Darker Waves 2023.  (Justin James)

Fans wearing satirical costumes at Darker Waves 2023. (Justin James)

Darker Waves participants dress to impress.  (Marty Vogel)Darker Waves participants dress to impress.  (Marty Vogel)

Darker Waves participants dress to impress. (Marty Vogel) (Marty Vogel)

Darker Waves participants are filled with clowns.  (Justin James)Darker Waves participants are filled with clowns.  (Justin James)

Darker Waves participants are filled with clowns. (Justin James)

Over the course of a 10-hour day, a total of 30 performers took to Waves’ three waterfront stages, with only five-minute rotations between acts. They included classic L.A. punk, X and TSOL; to intense college rock violent women;to the early days of MTV’s New Wave Psychedelic Fur and British beats; to mood music Clan HimoxAfter Midnight in London and Chameleons; even the bouncy, slick 90s Swedish pop cardigan and (just did an all-Smiths Glastonbury show with Rick Astley, who sadly didn’t appear in Darker Waves) British pop band bloom.Of course, the most notable ones are the bands that play hits wisely and have nothing but hits.

Frustratingly, Soft Cell didn’t play songs like “Say Hello, Wave Goodbye,” “Insecure Me,” “Bedsitter” or “Frustration,” which are sure to be hits with the crowd, while “Tears for Fears” was too invested in Much energy.Their brilliant but less familiar 2022 album makes headlines critical pointBut when Andy McClusky took the stage, he immediately announced that his synth-pop duo OMD would “relentlessly” cram “10 singles” into their all-too-brief 40-minute album— —To the delight of the audience, OMD continued to do so without unleashing the energy from “Electric” through “Enola Gay.”

Both McCluskey and Tears for Fears’ Roland Ozabal cited Devo as their favorite performance of the day, judging by the large number of power hats in the crowd (and one A fan wearing a jumpsuit and spiky hair, dressed in “Beautiful World” cosplay) is a sentiment shared by many. Devo, one of the standouts from Cruel World 2022, was excited about the rapid changes in several costumes and ahead-of-its-time classics like “Hide and Seek.” “, “That’s Good,” “Uncontrollable Urge,” “Jocko Homo,” “Gates of Steel” and, of course, “Whip It,” with lead singer Mark Mothersbaugh even throwing a few red souvenir Devo hats into the crowd. The B-52s The same eccentric bunch of mavericks who also played a non-stop sideshow of a greatest-hits party, climaxing with the day’s most beach-friendly song, “Rock Lobster.”

A Devo fan pays tribute A Devo fan pays tribute

A Devo fan pays tribute to “Beautiful World”. (Lindsay Parker)

“For all the guys who have their shoes stained, I hope it’s worth it,” Mareux quipped shortly before his cover of the Cure’s “Perfect Girl” in the afternoon, as he looked out at all the stumbling concertgoers. . Walking through the sand in high heels and pointed boots. Perhaps more practical attire and a higher SPF will be required next time, but fans are certainly already looking forward to 2024’s Darker Waves revisiting the goth capital of America.

45 Darker Waves 2023 Graves on the Tiki Stage.  (Zach Aquilevich)45 Darker Waves 2023 Graves on the Tiki Stage.  (Zach Aquilevich)

45 Darker Waves 2023 Graves on the Tiki Stage. (Zach Aquilevich) (Zach Aquilevich)

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