Downtown Long Beach hosted the second edition of Midnight Mass at The Packard, a creative space venue featuring large crystal chandeliers and an outdoor patio space decorated with vibrant murals. The venue’s generous space and even all-gender indoor restrooms set the vibe for the very best of what a DIY music festival can and should be. A 12-hour festival is a lot to put together, but Astro Lizard Records and Freakstyle Booking worked tirelessly to put together a solid lineup with a bit of something for everyone in attendance.
As with generally any type of performance, the set times ran a little behind schedule but nobody seemed to mind. The weather was accommodating and a crowd gathered early in the day to watch Nectarines on the outdoor stage a little after 2:00pm.
Intense but lighthearted power-punk group Clit Kat, fronted by the ever-charming Mag, took the outdoor stage and revved up our engines for the day with songs about sucking, fucking and having fantasies involving Steve Buscemi. Onlookers passing by on the street even stopped to watch Mag tear it up on stage, with heavy percussion and lyrics that make people delightfully uncomfortable. Clit Kat and some of it’s members, Luis and Julian and their growing label, Penniback Records, seem to be a staple in the area punk scene and are definitely a band and label worth watching, as they define their style and consistently play kick-ass sets.
related content: Rally to Save the Smell and the Horrid History of DIY Venues in L.A.
Beach Bums, another band that played early in the day, brought youthful exuberance to the indoor stage. Fronted by Jonathan Horsely, a long-haired live wire delivered a real rock show complete with screaming teenage fans and guitar riffs reminiscent of the garage bands of Southern California’s music scene in the early 90’s. The group’s performance value makes them an asset to the lineup and it may have been a bit of a mistake to have them play so early in the day, but nonetheless, Beach Bums had no problem drawing a healthy crowd and putting on a hell of a show. Definitely worth watching this band, as label, Lolipop Records never seems to be able to keep their cassettes in stock.
As the night continued, many well-known local bands took the stage including the now Orange County music scene’s elder statesmen and fan favorite, Audacity. Known for their popularity among the Burger Records enthusiasts, Audacity plays a well- orchestrated and rehearsed set without sacrificing the authenticity of their style.
Peach Kelli Pop brought a strong female presence to the male-dominated lineup and rocked the outdoor stage with catchy pop tunes played by a group of badass women wielding V-shaped guitars that front woman, Allie Hanlon informed the crowd were purchased online from China.
Always a pleasure to watch, The Memories brought a renewed energy to the indoor stage a little after the sun had set and the crowd settled in for some tender love songs and chill jams. Izak Arida and Rikky Gage, also of the band White Fang, play songs that instantly elevate the mood of any room. As a festival band, The Memories have a tangibly positive energy that makes everyone sway.
Big name headliners, The Garden never disappoint with their melancholic yet surprisingly heavy sound that seems strongly influenced by 80’s goth and new wave music. Stylistically, watching The Garden play is extremely rewarding because they embody their own unique sound and never seem to mail in any performance I’ve seen from them. From the lyricism to their body language onstage, The Garden is a full spectacle all on their own, which is an accomplishment for any group, let alone a two piece band. Brothers, Wyatt and Fletcher Shears have earned a well-deserved reputation for the kind of music and live performances that will continue to sell out venues for as long as they stay true to their art. They were the perfect headliner for this festival.
A post-apocalyptic dystopian Christmas-themed warehouse show in lieu of the recent Ghost Ship tragedy in Oakland had many obstacles to overcome in order to orchestrate an event with the size and scope of Midnight Mass. As early as 11:00 in the morning, the fire marshal was present, pacing between the warehouse space and continued to do so for the duration of the festival. Right as capacity was reached and ticket sales ceased, the security staff were instructed to keep everyone either inside the warehouse or on the patio, presumably to keep somewhat of a headcount. Some festival-goers appeared agitated by the traffic jam this process caused but for the most part people seemed understanding of the measures being taken and few argued.
The show was well-attended and many disappointed fans were turned away at the door when capacity was reached a little before 9:00pm. The crowd was a vibrant mix of LBC locals, high school-aged kids, even some toddlers accompanied by punk parents. One of the drawbacks of an all-ages show is the security aspect. The way alcohol consumption (underaged or otherwise) is handled by an event staff can mean the difference between a successful music event or the event being shut down by authorities and everyone feeling disappointed and unfulfilled. Fortunately for the Midnight Mass security crew did a fantastic job of consistently enforcing the appropriate restrictions that would insure an event in a commercial space like The Packard would continue, uninterrupted.
The crowd in and of itself was remarkably well-behaved. The majority of the kids were high-school aged but even with that, it was a relatively well-behaved group. The folks that opted to bring toddlers and young children to the event gave Midnight Mass 2 the feeling of community within the Long Beach scene. Everyone was friendly and respectful to the venue and to each other and it was evident that the event was an inclusive safe space. The staff, artists, and everyone involved set the tone and Midnight Mass 2 was able to showcase some of the finest up-and-coming talent in the area. With all the fledgling promoters throwing their hats in the ring to varying degrees of success, Astro Lizard Records and Freak Style Booking demonstrated how to properly throw an awesome DIY festival. The second edition of Midnight Mass was definitely an event worth attending and continued to set the tone for future successes.
Words: Aria Silva Espinosa