As June came to a close, Vestal, a surf watch and eyewear company, parked more than 50 “glamping” tents and many surf vendors and artists, along with several stages for over 40 musicians to rock, dance and bathe in the piping hot sand Thursday, June 28 thru Sunday, July 1 at Bolsa Chica State Beach.
Vestal brought the party vibes to the public and the beach in addition to its usual desert-only fest for the company’s 10-year anniversary.
Although there is no avoiding a fist -pumping or head bangin’ good time at noon each day, the earlier shows were lightly attended. Most folks could be seen either in the water or still snoozing off something in their beachfront glamping tents. This is the first time in 30 years the city of Huntington Beach and the state of California let anyone camp on the beach, according to Vestal Event Manager Elijah Chavis.
Between drinking tasty GTS Kombucha and surfing some of Russell Surfboards’ retro-style magic sticks (I love the twinnies and the quad!), there was not much time for this writer to be bored. Eventually, the surfer boys decided it would be a terrific ideal to pile six people onto a giant surfboard-esque raft and, with several beers stuffed in boardies, paddle our asses off into small shitty beach break. Were there bruises? Yes. Did anyone die? No.
And with several surf sessions under my bikini belt as well as many large black and blue badges of honor from the communal surf adventure, I hobbled back to the beach to watch several acts melt my eardrums. For those of you who missed out, here’s the highlights from Vestal Village at the Beach.
Strongest Accent: Black Lips
These cats hail from my hometown—ATL, baby! And it was a bit cathartic to hear a lil’ southern drawl, y’all. They opened with tracks from their 2017 album Satan’s Graffiti or God’s Art? and sandwiched a couple of oldies like “O Katrina!” in between their latest sound–a salty cocktail of garage rock meshed with country(?) But don’t fret! It’s not twangy stuff about a truck breaking down, it actually sounds pretty awesome.
Coolest Hats: Lanitarians
Three out of the five guys in the Lanitarians, a California-based band, rocked the midday crowd adorned in a bull hat, a frog cap and a rainbow visor. I didn’t see anyone else even contemplating hats, except for the odd hipster who wore it as an accessory to their already uncomfortable-looking polyester or leather (yes! Leather) outfits. Rock on, guys! Can’t wait to watch you rock Marty’s on Newport this summer.
Most Tasteful Synthesizer action: Distractor
If by Distractor, you mean pull me away from the ocean, this band did a very good job at that. There are times when bands tend to use way too much synthesizer and my brain doesn’t know what to think. Thankfully this was not so with Distractor. Throughout their songs, the group’s peppy, upbeat vibes paired well with their continuous use of the electronica action and the beachy atmosphere. If you would enjoy Devo at the beach, these guys nail it. Word on the sand is their music videos are pretty good, thanks to the keyboardist. Search “Orbital” on Youtube.
Most Surprising: Dead Sara
For the greater part of Saturday afternoon, there was a snoozy vibe floating around.
And then Dead Sara showed up.
The second this band started playing, I instantaneously jumped from my cozy seat and scooted my sandy bottom towards the front of the stage. Lead Singer and Lead Guitarist Emily Armstrong’s piercing voice woke up the sleepy Vestal Village as many were drawn in to watch her lay down on the floor and shred guitar or leap off of a giant speaker and wail through the heat of the day.
“We all kind of go through life being part of a system and when art comes in, you get to show who you really are,” Armstrong told the Weekly. “People kind of dig that. I think it’s a way of getting out and trying to be a normal person. And then I realize ‘Oh wait, actually who I am is when I’m on stage.”
Despite a few broken guitar strings and some “lighting” problems—the late afternoon sun lined up perfectly within the bands eyes, Dead Sara still woke everyone the fuck up. Thanks guys, it was getting a little dead—no pun intended.
Most Anticipated: Mickey Avalon
Throughout the Saturday, conversations slowly turned to Mickey Avalon and his raunchy crew. He opened with several from his latest 2017 album Teardrops on My Tombstone and his 2013 album I Get Even EP with salacious backup dancers sporting fishnets and more than high-thigh one pieces and cute colorful wigs. I think his DJ is even named Boner? I told myself this can’t be as raunchy as a Peaches show I once saw in Austin, Texas, and (sorry Mickey), it wasn’t. But Avalon’s lyrics do paint quite the pornographic picture and the crowd loves it.
Some folks actually didn’t know him, but those who did were brimming in anticipation hoping and praying he would perform his infamous track…wanna guess? Performed dead last, “My Dick” was the highlight of the set. He pulled about 20 girls on stage, and while most ladies semi-behaved themselves, a few were prepared with some sparkly pasties for the all the world to see.
Most awkward sight: The sub humper
Within three days of sun-soaked action, the people watching at this event was probably the best part. Between surfing a giant raft with a bunch of guys and eating glorious shit several times, somehow I have to say that watching a drunk guy hump a couple of subs and then twerk in the sand during the Warbly Jets performance was pretty entertaining. Afterall, with surfing, eating shit comes with the territory, but drunk guy humping some subs? You don’t see that every day…but maybe I need to see another Peaches show.