The Darker Waves post-punk festival debuted on Saturday, November 18th, right on the beach in Huntington Beach, California, taking over two expansive seaside blocks of the iconic surf city’s Pacific Coast Highway. The event featured headliners like New Order, Echo and the Bunnymen, Soft Cell, and the Human League, bringing a unique sound to the backdrop of palm trees and ocean waves, thereby stunning even the most seasoned music fans.
With a reputation for embracing the underground, it is no surprise that Southern California played host to this festival. The L.A. deathrock scene of the ’80s set the stage for what we know today, with KROQ being the first American radio station to champion British new wave acts like New Order and Echo and the Bunnymen. From the gloom of the L.A. deathrock scene to the modern-day post-punk/industrial concerts, the Goth scene in Southern California has never ebbed.
Over the course of 10 hours, Darker Waves featured 30 bands across three oceanfront stages. The lineup included punk legends like X and T.S.O.L., college rockers like Violent Femmes, new wave acts like the Psychedelic Furs, as well as artists like Clan of Xymox and London After Midnight. The event was a non-stop spectacle of hits and foot-tapping tunes.
However, Soft Cell and Tears for Fears left fans wanting more; Soft Cell neglected crowd-pleasers, while Tears for Fears dwelled too much on their latest album instead of playing their hits. But OMD didn’t disappoint and delivered a high-energy set of 10 singles that had the crowd on their feet.
In addition to these impressive performances, Devo and the B-52’s provided memorable shows, offering beloved classics and plenty of beach vibes. At the end of the festival, Mareux humorously pointed out the impractical footwear of concertgoers, adding to the quirkiness and personality of the event. Despite some mishaps, fans can’t wait to head back to Southern California for Darker Waves 2024, solidifying the region as the go-to destination for music lovers.