The Observatory's first Day N Night Festival literally lasted all day and night as attendees found themselves stuck in traffic while exiting the parking lot of Oak Canyon Park for as long as 6 hours on Saturday and Sunday evening.
What could've been the best hip-hop festival to hit Southern California since Rock The Bells folded was marred by logistical problems mainly concerning Oak Canyon Park's limited entry access. A narrow two-lane road barely accommodated hundreds of cars causing heavy congestion entering the venue and inside the venue's single parking lot.
The festival itself had people dancing, jumping, grinding, moshing and just overall having a great time. The only complaints heard among attendees throughout Saturday were for the lack of cellular service and wi-fi. Set times were affected by traffic congestion too as many artists arrived late to their performances by hours. These small slip ups were forgivable among many attendees—however, as people exited the festival around 11p.m. on Saturday night they found themselves in a full-on “car-mageddon” that lasted up to 6 hours.
David Rodriguez from Huntington Beach said it bluntly, “Parking is pretty fucked.”
“There is no employee in sight. I think everybody is just stuck because there is no guidance.” says Rachelle Celeridad who drove from San Jose for the festival. “It's one way in, one way out.”
“I went to Coachella and that took maybe 2 hours to get out of and that's way more people.” says Fiona Conner from Claremont. “It’s pretty bad I’ve never seen anything like this and I’ve been to a festival every weekend this summer.” says Celeridad.
Many festival attendees experienced car battery failures as they waited all night with their lights on to exit the festival's parking lot. “I heard one girl say that they weren't able to get to their hotel on time, so they lost their room and they don't have anywhere to stay tonight. And then her car died because she had her lights on, so she had a meltdown and started crying.” says Conner.
“People are passing out and throwing up from dehyradtion.” says Celeridad—her friend, Larry Salas of Hayward expressed his frustration, “I mean, at least have water for people because dehydration is a big issue at these kind of events.”
Around 3:30a.m. a man in a golf cart started passing out free water bottles to people in the parking lot. When asked if organizers sent him the man said that they did not and that he was passing out water on his own accord.
“I had a good time at the festival but honestly this is not worth staying in the parking lot for 5 hours” says Elizabeth Hahn from Diamond Bar, “It’s literally 4 in the morning right now—it’s really ridiculous.”
Parking was priced at $20 per night. On Sunday, cars were parked outside of Oak Canyon Park off of Santiago Canyon Road in an effort to avoid paying the parking lot fee and the congestion inside the lot.
A publicist for the Day N Night Festival did not respond to our inquiries about the traffic and parking issues by press time. A representative for the California Highway Patrol said CHP assistance was present on Saturday and more assistance was added for Sunday. Orange County Sheriff's officers were also on site throughout the weekend but were only visible towards the entrance of Oak Canyon Park and inside the festival. The parking lot was practically abandoned each night as people figured out how to maneuver themselves to exit.
I was personally ready to dispel all the rumors of The Observatory's reputation for disorganized events and over-selling their venue—given that I had recently enjoyed a sold-out show at The Observatory's Santa Ana location. But after being stuck in the parking lot for 6 hours on Saturday night and 4 hours on Sunday night, I along with many other patrons of The Observatory are asking, 'what the fuck?' One can only wonder if The Observatory will get its shit together for Beach Goth in October—which is also scheduled to be held at Oak Canyon Park. If not, consider this your pre-Beach Goth warning: get your blankets, pillows, snacks and sanity ready because it's gonna be a long weekend.