Words by Daniel Oliva // Photos by Crystal Morris

After an inaugural run, Music Tastes Good – set on the scenic waterfront Marina Green Park – returned to Long Beach on September 30th and October 1st. Music Tastes Good distinguished itself from other Southern California festivals with a diverse line-up and eclectic culinary offerings including a “Taste Tent” with chefs from New Orleans and Long Beach.


Day 1

I opened Day 1 by walking the festival grounds. The grounds are curated to include the best of everything Long Beach, from local restaurants to clothing designers. I then made my way to the catch Argentina’s Juana Molina‘s set. Molina is a seasoned performer with a lengthy career as a comedian and Argentinian television personality. At the height of her television popularity, Molina ended her tv-career to pursue music. Despite resentment from Argentinian critics, Molina emerged with music that pulls from all corners of cultural influence.

Molina played new material from her seventh album Halo. Halo is one of my favorite albums at the moment. It’s a delicate conceptual album. Molina on stage is an ethereal character weaving intricate melodies through a multidimensional landscape of synthesizers and loop pedals. No one sounds like Juana Molina, which is precisely why I love her.


I then made my way across festival grounds and caught Spirit Mother‘s Jam in the Van set in time to watch them peel the posters off the interior. The Long Beach locals are jangly, heavy, and rhythmic, with violin ominous, out-front, and present. I regretted not catching their set early afternoon. Check out “Go Getter” from their Jam In The Van session.


After the set I watched kids play with the “Box Of Boom” an interactive installation of computer and user controlled instruments made by David Hedden, Dan Lundmark, and team – my neighbors at the local Long Beach co-working space WeLabs.


Day 2

I opened Day 2 chatting with singer Sarah Green of local band Spare Parts for Broken Hearts about her new line-up and solo material. Spare Parts performed at the inaugural festival and Sarah performed a solo set for this year’s festival kickoff at local punk rock wine bar, 4th Street Vine.

I then grabbed killer ahi nachos from Roe Seafood, and headed over to the second stage to catch fellow-Canadian Peaches. My first Peaches concert was nearly 15 years ago. Every time I see her it’s entirely different. The costume changes were the best surprise: a flapper-dress made out of hair, plenty of neon, various high-collared body suits, and fish-net. She penetrated the crowd with a giant phallic balloon that protruded out from the stage, casting a marvelous shadow as the sun set, then whipped the crowd into a queer dance-party frenzy.

After Peaches, I caught tUnE-yArDs with an ideal view on a hill from the VIP section. tUnE-yArDs’ Merrill Garbus masterfully uses live looping, non-western rhythms, consonance, and dissonance to create a rich base for subversive and confrontational lyrics that address issues like capitalism, privilege, and race. Her voice oscillates from nursery-rhyme coo to stark warning, mirrored by a frenetic sax line.

Sleater-Kinney performed after tUnE-yArDs. Carrie Brownstein emerged glowing in a head-to-toe blue suede suit. As she spat “so you want to be entertained?” at the crowd, the opening lines of “Entertain” from their 2006 album The Woods, her smile was wide under the snarl – a confident Brownstein, very different from the years after Sleater-Kinney’s hiatus in 2006. The band breezed through fan favorites like “Modern Girl”, “Words & Guitar”, “Good Things”, and new tracks – drummer Janet Weiss’ hair in the breeze, Brownstein’s boot in the air. It was a great way to end a festival that Tastes Good and feels good too.