The tranquil waters of the Long Beach bay is a welcoming setting for any weekend event. Despite stationed smack dab in the middle of downtown LB, the grassy knolls along the water still feel like you're immersed in nature, away from city life. Music festivals such as Shoreline Jam, One Love Festival and Goldenvoice's upcoming Tropicalia Fest call the Queen Mary home, while just across the water rests the home of Music Tastes Good, a brainchild of the late Josh Fischel. A cross-section of music and palate, MTG promotes top shelf chefs all weekend long inside a giant Taste Tent separating two performance stages – the Franklin main stage and the Gold side stage.
The theme of vol. 3 was specifically 'Pacific': renowned west coast chefs offering menu items from some of the hottest eateries from Baja to Canada.
The 3rd Annual began Saturday, September 29th with perfect weather. Attendees poured through the gates to catch early acts, such as Haunted Summer, BLCKNOISE, Manuel the Band, Forest of Tongue, Neighbor Lady and FEELS, not to mention the No BS! Brass Band who takes their name quite literally. Out in the Taste Tent, chef interviews were underway and samples from popular west coast restaurants were up for grabs to those who sprang for a meal ticket. The theme of vol. 3 was specifically 'Pacific': renowned west coast chefs offering menu items from some of the hottest eateries from Baja to Canada. Let foodies revel in tasty triumph. It was around this time that I arrived to witness Quintron and Miss Pussycat perform a bizarre hand puppet show right before Los Master Plus upped the Latin prescence on the side stage, doing Spanish covers of popular songs like No Doubt's “Don't Speak”. Cherry Glazerr amped up spectators of the Franklin Stage next, but I was too determined to catch Oliver Tree's rumored weirdness to stay too long. If you haven't experienced Oliver Tree live, then this is going to be hard to describe. Homeslice came out on a Razor scooter, rocking a straight up bowl cut, an 80's era ski jacket and extreme parachute pants. His players were rocking the same outfit and wigs cut into bowl cuts (faux cuts?). The whole ensemble was a priceless sight. Tree launched into crowd-favorites, like “Alien Boy”, flash dancing along the front speakers in the most awkward, yet intriguing fashion. Three songs into the set, Tree stripped down to reveal he was also wearing a matching track sweatshirt and sweatpants of mid-80's origin; with the midday heat, how he danced in those layers was beyond comprehension.
Big Thief was up next, followed by female rap royalty Princess Nokia rocking the most boss sneakers I've ever seen. She's as real and raw as rap gets. Blake Mills superceded Oliver Tree before Santigold's over-the-top production blew everyone away. Santigold already stands as a musical enigma, yet seeing her perform live for the first time was something out of a Dr. Seuss book. Green hair, bushy trees, backup dancers, a cape of crushed water bottles and dollar bills… Santigold is the epitome of futuristic fame. Midway through her set, she demanded the front row jump over the security fence and dance with her onstage – a request that was obliged by at least 50 people. I was being ushered out of the photo pit at this time, when it hit me that photographers may not be excluded from this missive. Why not? I announced loudly to the few fellow photogs left in the pit that I was going up and after we all exchanged looks for a millisecond, all four of us simultaneously hopped the three-foot speakers to join the madness, cradling our cameras for dear life. I've never bumrushed a stage before (sober and older than 23, at least) and after securely stashing my camera behind a speaker, I jumped, danced, shouted and twirled next to Santigold, looking out on a sea of people stretching away from the stage. I'm never going to forget how that moment felt.
Lil B continued the confusing commotion by coming out to his version of the “YMCA”. You couldn't even be mad about it. Before I describe Broken Social Scene's performance, I have to point out I purchased a BSS vinyl halfway through the day from the Fingerprints Music tent to get signed by the band. Not only did the wonderful owners of Fingerprints garner those signatures for me while I shot the fest, but I randomly chose to buy their 2002 debut LP You Forget It In People… the exact album that Broken Social Scene performed in full that night. Apparently, BSS advertised this prior to the fest, but I had no idea! I love when festivals emit natural synergy like this. Joey Bada$$ headlined the Gold Stage as 80's post-punk icons New Order reminded everyone how truly ahead of their time they were. 30 years after their pop culture peak and alt bands are striving to emulate their trailblazing sound. Remarkable.
Day Two was just as palatable as Day One although I didn't arrive until Ezra Furman took the stage (LADAMA on the side stage). What a bummer too, because I'm a big fan of The Blow. Hailu Mergia had a funky, mambo vibe while Bill Callahan took over after LADAMA. UK reggae queen Hollie Cook lit up the main stage like a ray of sunshine, smiling and dancing throughout her set. A stark contrast later, Sun Kil Moon's dark streams of consciousness riddled the ears of MTG attendees before LIZZO annhilated the Gold Stage alongside her twerking Big Girl dancers. She preached confidence, feminism, natural beauty and chivalry in between club hits like “Phone” and “Boys”. What's fun about LIZZO is that she not only is true to herself and wildly entertaining onstage, but she interacts with the crowd – “Have you seen my phone?? Do you have my phone??”
Until next year, Music Tastes Good vol. 3's aftertaste leaves us hungry for another round.
Parquet Courts finished up the day acts as the Taste Tent did a last call, before The Church and Janelle Monáe launched into action on opposite ends. Just like the day before, I chose The Church's Starfish vinyl to have signed – the album they just so happened to play from start to finish that night. Another huge shoutout and eternal thank you to Fingerprints Music for wrangling up The Church members post-set to sign it! Meanwhile, Janelle Monáe delivered an A-list performance, changing from train conductor garb to, (I kid you not), vagina pants for “Pynk”. “Pynk, beyond forest and thighs…” Monáe sang with hands clasped between pussy pant legs, innuendo be damned. Last, but not least, James Blake's EDM-infused blues wafted out into the night as The Black Angels' garage rock closed down the Gold Stage. Exiting the grounds, attendees were chock full of food, fun times and favorite memories. Until next year, Music Tastes Good vol. 3's aftertaste leaves us hungry for another round.
Photography by Kristy Rose