Music Tastes Good is a festival true to its Long Beach roots. Low key and casual, but
simultaneously bursting with character and quirks. The festival is notable not only for its stellar
lineup of musical acts, but for its representation of local food and artistic culture.
The festival is centered around a massive mixtape sculpture, “Josh’s Mix vol. 3.” It serves as a
meeting place for lost friends, a photo op for the social media-savvy, and a focal point of the
festival grounds. During the two days of Music Tastes Good, the mixtape becomes a familiar
friend, passed on the way from set to set, stared at while trying to scarf down a piece of pizza
before the crowd gets too full, leaned against when your feet get tired.
“Josh’s Mix” is located right next to “Vinyl Village,” which is a collection of local record stores.
We missed The Based God’s set because we were drawn in to the offerings of the Third Eye
Records booth. They carried an impressive amount of vinyl, as well as a thorough collection of
cassettes, and a few original print tour posters. Most notable in our eyes was the assortment of
pins available. We took advantage of their 3 for $5 and 2 for $7 deals, filling our pockets with
embodiments of The Damned, Pink Floyd, Roxy Music, and even Broken Social Scene who
were playing on the stage 100 feet away.
Princess Nokia commanded the crowd despite a brief conflict with some of its members over
cigarettes and her lung sensitivities. Parquet Courts started a massive mosh pit. Janelle Monáe
innovated with her choreography. Although I went into the festival only knowing one of
Santigold’s songs, after her set I was inspired to listen to her first album on the car ride home
and have kept her on repeat since.
Of all of the great performances of Music Tastes Good 2018, without question, New Order was
my favorite. It was surreal to experience such classics as “Ceremony” and “Temptation” live. We
were able to push to the front of the crowd and enjoy the show amongst the other serious fans.
Everyone danced enthusiastically and mouthed all of the lyrics to even the lesser known songs.
The visuals were incredibly well done, ranging from psychedelic trips through geometric forms
to footage of the London underground music scene in the ‘80s. Each montage felt like it
transported you to an alternate universe in which New Order themselves were the deities. The
best part of the set was during the encore, when the band returned to the stage to play a song
by Joy Division. The performance of “Love Will Tear Us Apart” was accompanied by a slideshow
of images of Ian Curtis in remembrance both of him and their former band. I left Music Tastes
Good on Saturday night with a sense of connection to music and its performance that I have
rarely experienced. This feeling carried through the next day, during which the celebration of
Long Beach, of music, of people, of food, continued.