Fans at the Observatory Grounds in Santa Ana, California went hard on a hot summer night as five diverse acts united for an unparalleled musical experience. The OC music scene reached new heights when the “One Strange Night in Orange County” festival brought together a mesmerizing lineup of goth, punk, electronic, rap, and experimental artists, including 45 Grave, Alice Glass, The Adicts, JPEGMAFIA, and headliners, The Garden.
From the moment the doors opened, the anticipation was palpable as fans prepared to embark on an extraordinary journey through a kaleidoscope of sounds.
Countless faces painted in white and black makeup adorned the grounds in anticipation of one hell of a night of music.
45 Grave: Punk’s Undead Legends
Kicking off the night, 45 Grave took the stage, instantly transporting the audience back to the heyday of punk and early goth. Led by the fierce Dinah Cancer, the band exuded a captivating energy that fueled a frenzied mosh pit… or so I was told. Sadly, I missed a band I desperately wanted to see because the parking situation at the venue was brutal. Actually, it was non-existent. We had to park at a college campus 20 minutes away and take a bus over. By the time I arrived, 45 Grave had already finished their set. Important safety tip: If you are going to a show on the Observatory festival grounds, park and take an Uber. That said, I spoke with several people who said 45 Grave absolutely crushed it. 45 Grave proved that their legacy as undead legends of the genre remain undiminished. Their unapologetic attitude and gothic punk vibes set the perfect tone for the evening’s non-stop heart pounding line up.
Alice Glass: Unraveling Electronic Enigma
Following 45 Grave’s rousing set, Alice Glass stepped into the spotlight, captivating the crowd with her haunting vocals and bewitching stage presence. Embracing the experimental, she immersed the audience in a world of electronic enigma. From the entrancing “Celestica” to the charged “Forgiveness,” Glass’s emotive performance transcended traditional boundaries, leaving the audience spellbound. It was just Alice and Jupiter IO on stage creating an amazing and haunting sound with nothing more than a midi keyboard, an occasional guitar, and Alice’s pure vocals. Her raw vulnerability and audacious artistry marked a pivotal moment in the night’s ever-evolving sonic journey.
The Adicts: Punk Royalty Reigns
As The Adicts took the stage, the primarily young crowd paid proper homage to punk rock royalty. Dressed in their signature droog attire, the British veterans delivered a high-octane set filled with anthems that have stood the test of time. As the band took the stage and began to play intro notes, the crowd reached a fever pitch anxiously awaiting the arrival of the major general of the droog army himself, Monkey. Wrapped in one of the countless versions of his iconic capes, Monkey joined the band wrapped up like count Dracula waiting to strike. With his back to the crowd, the band broke into their anthem “Let’s Go”, and Monkey spread his arms revealing the giant smile on the back of his smock. As he turned around, he revealed himself in all of his traditional glory and accoutrement including the iconic face paint and bowler hat. But who was that on lead guitar? Holy crap! That’s Pete Dee pulling off a sick ass beard reminiscent of ZZ Top. Pete still crushes it with his pure rock and roll inspired licks (don’t call him a punk). As the band played Joker in the Pack, Monkey busted out the decks of cards and began hurling them into the crowd, one of which smacked me dead in the forehead! Damn! It was only the 5 of Hearts. Monkey’s magnetic presence held the audience in his hand while songs like “Viva La Revolution” and “Chinese Takeaway” brought an unrivaled nostalgia to the night. As the band reached the end of their set, “Viva La Revolution” and “Walk On” played the band off and was the foundation for an insane shower of confetti and the massive beachballs that were tossed into the crowd. On this night, like so many others, The Adicts proved they’re still kings of punk with their unforgettable performance.
JPEGMAFIA: Genre-Bending Provocation
The momentum surged as JPEGMAFIA stepped into the spotlight, bringing his genre-defying approach to the stage. His unapologetic rap and hip hop verses and boundary-pushing production kept the energy electrifyingly high. Tracks like “Baby I’m Bleeding” and “Vengeance” incited a frenzy of movement among the crowd, showcasing Peggy’s ability to provoke thought and excitement simultaneously. Even when he dropped lyrics and apologized to the crowd for forgetting his own words, the crowd roared with applause and stood strongly behind him. He busted out his cover of Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe”. JPEGMAFIA’s fearless exploration of sound reaffirmed his position as a true innovator in the rap and hip-hop landscape. He was a perfect fit and set up for the finale of the night.
The Garden: Avant-Garde Escapade
As the night reached the moment that the throng of face painted ravenous fans stood packed in together in anticipation of, The Garden took center stage, closing the night with their distinctive avant-garde style. Wyatt and Fletcher mesmerized the audience with their inimitable stage presence and offbeat charisma. They hit the stage in full face paint and outfits straight out of a vintage shop. They started off their set with “Horseshit on Route 66” and immediately sent the crowd into a frenzy with pits breaking out and a crush of humanity up against the barriers. I have never seen so many kids being pulled over the barriers by security. During the set, the fans never stopped screaming, dancing, and singing along, and pushing their way to the rail to get as close as they could to the brothers. I have rarely seen anything like it at any other show. The set included all of the songs you would expect but included “California Here We Go” (not played live since 2017) and “The Gorilla” (not played live since 2018). Blending punk, garage rock, and art-pop, The Garden’s set was a surreal experience of infectious energy and unbridled creativity. Songs like “Call This # Now” and “Call the Dogs Out” had the crowd in raptures, illustrating the twins’ unparalleled talent as performers. The highlight of the night, at least from the absolute explosion of energy and screams from the crowd had to have been “Vexation”. It is one of their punk styled songs that just sent the crowd into the stratosphere. About halfway through their set, their giant clown came out to adorn the stage. The set included two encore songs including the fan favorite “Banana Peel” which of course saw numerous banana peels fly through the air and onto the stage. If you have not seen The Garden, you missed out on one hell of an amazing show. From the eclectic music performed by the twin brothers Wyatt and Fletcher playing a drum kit and a bass guitar to their avante garde styling, The Garden absolutely melted faces and left the crowd completely drenched with sweat and longing for more. The “vada vada” was strong this night, and it is a night that the ravenous 8,000 plus in attendance will talk about for a long time. And if you read this and are saying “who?”, get your ass to your favorite streaming service and listen to The Garden now. Their music is artistic, wild, genre bending, eclectic, and just damn good!
“One Strange Night in Orange County” was a triumph of musical diversity and experimentation.
45 Grave, Alice Glass, The Adicts, JPEGMAFIA, and The Garden each brought their unique flair, taking the audience on an exhilarating rollercoaster ride of sound, theatrics, and emotion. This extraordinary night highlighted Orange County as a hub of musical innovation, where artists fearlessly push the envelope and redefine the boundaries of their genres. As the audience dispersed, they carried with them the memories of a night that celebrated the power of artistic evolution and the joy of musical discovery.