Midnight Mass II: Long Beach’s Punk Rock Church

I was pleased to hear about this show for the first time this year, “Midnight Mass,” which caters to the DIY punk scene in Long Beach. With headliners like The Garden and The Spits, and a lineup featuring some of my faves, Feels, Walter, and The Buttertones, and taking place at an artist colony venue “The Packard” on Anaheim and Long Beach Blvd., this Christmas-themed festival was sure to be a huge draw for locals of all ages.

When I arrived a little past 2:00 p.m., the Nectarines were onstage outside to a fairly empty venue. Right away, I noticed that I’d probably be one of the eldest attendees (even though apparently I look 21 ;-)), but I didn’t let that deter me and just made a mental note to step aside from the riff-raff because, let’s face it, my moshing and crowd-surfing days are well behind me.

TBH, I was 100% hung over—but I had purchased my ticket and was determined to last the day. Big mistake #1 was not bringing much cash. I negotiated my way to a $1 bottle of water and came to terms with the fact there would be no beer entering my system for the day, which was probably for the best anyway.

The scene inside was eerily welcoming—Christmas trees leaned against the corner, and large chandeliers hung up high on the warehouse ceiling, as well as rarely seen before gender-fluid bathrooms and a stage set so low the audience members could sit on it (proving to be a security guard’s worst nightmare).

The Nectarines were a perfect way to start off the day. I recognized the frontman from another band I love, So Many Wizards, but this time he was backed by four rad-looking babes playing dreamy psych rock. Set times were not forgiving, as each minute was booked between the indoor and outdoor stages. This worked very well until the Spits set was cut super short. There were several standouts at this festival in this sea of punk and surf rock—Beach Bums showed much versatility between shredding punk and surf rock licks. Prettiest Eyes drove the crowd with furious rock ‘n roll fit for a cowboy, Peach Kelli Pop was charmingly pop punk, legends Saccharine Trust were spot on with interesting, forward thinking punk rock. Walter shredded like it was NBD and provided some comic relief, and everyone got into it with Feels. However, things started to get a little rocky with the Spits. Their set was pure punk, but when a drunken teen took to the stage and was manhandled by security, it appeared to end things all too quickly. All of a sudden, there were security guards on the stage getting in the way of the band and forcing people to move back. I chose to stay out of the way and observe from the side angle, knowing that The Garden would get nuts. The Garden‘s set was pure magic. I was in awe of drummer, Fletcher Shears, who killed it on the drums and then came to the stage with such energy, jumping up and down and flailing dangerously to match the electro-hardcore sounds emanating from the warehouse.

And just as midnight passed, mass was over. I certainly hope to come back to the Packard to worship again sometime soon.

Here are some snaps from the day:

 

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