Last weekend, I sweat, swayed, and listened to more music than my ears could handle in Long Beach, California at Tropicalia Music and Taco Fest. People thought I was insane for flying to California to see Mac DeMarco, Chicano Batman, Peach Pit, and countless others – but despite the costs and traveling, I would relive last weekend one hundred times over.

My denim on denim look fit in swimmingly, the weather was a fine 75 degrees, and people were either too high or too hippie to be rude. In short, my 54 hours in California were perfect (minus the catfight in the Chicano Batman mosh pit).

Besides the indie and Mexican lineup, the food was a major attraction of the festival. So! Many! Tacos! There was also overpriced Modelo and Corona, vegan ice cream, and Latin specialties like tamales and empanadas. For me, the weekend was a marriage of style, aroma, and sound so talented it made the $700 price tag worth it. Here were my favorite parts of the festival, grounds, music, and food included.

Let’s Get Situated in Long Beach, CA

Mackenzie Patel

Tropicalia took place at the Queen Mary Events Park – a dreamboat of a location situated on Queensway Bay. The Events Park lies in the shadow of the Queen Mary ship, a mammoth vessel that carried troops during WWII and celebrities during times of peace. A literal floating piece of history, this ship was an almost unreal backdrop for the weekend - Mac DeMarco even reserved a hotel room there for him and Kiki.

On another note, Long Beach is a beautiful city – relaxed and with wide boulevards, it’s everything I imagined California would be (weed included). My friend and I stayed in a studio Airbnb, the lemon-yellow walls and teal bathroom reminding me of Miami Beach. Seven days later and the weekend feels like a daydream – did I really buy a frozen pizza from CVS and eat it for breakfast? Did we see Morrissey and then walk to a liquor store at Midnight? Sí y sí.

The Only Lineup I Would Fly to California For

On the airplane, I was blasting Going to California by Led Zeppelin and California Here We Go by The Garden. The lineup for Tropicalia was almost too kismet – highlights included Morrissey, Mac DeMarco, Vundabar, Peach Pit, Yellow Days, Chicano Batman, Frankie Cosmos, Sports, and The Marias, but there was a myriad of other indie bands.

My favorite genres are indie and psychedelic rock, but a music festival that doesn’t include EDM or rap is rare. I’m all for having extraterrestrial “moments” with your favorite bands but moshing and taking E to pretty lights isn’t my thing. I was also relieved Tropicalia wasn’t a camping festival – I’ll hike for a few hours, but snuggling with tents, germs, and diluted cocaine overnight isn’t worth it.

My favorite sets were Peach Pit and Mac DeMarco – I was barricade for each, and as a 5-foot girl, I judge concert enjoyment but how well I can see. Mac’s fat suit and Peach Pit's guitarist’s synchronized leg dance were only a few feet away! Peach Pit also covered Here Comes Your Man by the Pixies, and I couldn’t contain my excitement.

My Second Source of Euphoria: Tacos

Mackenzie Patel

Tropicalia was basically a food truck festival as well. The pavement was lined with vendors ranging from weed dispensaries to vegan tacos, so there were options for every palette – the “general store” even sold condoms! I had chicken tacos both days, and while they were overpriced and plain, the meat was so flavorful that extras like pico de gallo and sour cream were unnecessary.

On the second day, my friend had vegan pupusas (stuffed Salvadorian corn tortillas), and I was bold with an $8 fruit cup. It’s funny – at festivals, your body is so beaten down and music-euphoric that doing drugs and drinking seems almost counterproductive. More tacos, on the other hand, are always a great idea (even if the cheapest pair is $10). There was only one ice cream truck, but their Biscoff vanilla and Oreo ice cream flavors were worth the $11.

California Here We Go

Mackenzie Patel

In the words of Robert Plant,

“Going to California with an aching, in my heart…

Took my chances on a big jet plane

Never let 'em tell you that they're all the same”

And I followed his lyrics to the T, angsty and wide-eyed and prepared. Tropicalia wasn’t just a spontaneous trip; it was planned happiness, and I enjoyed every second. Licking ice cream by the Queen Mary, posing in denim, and actually doing something I said I’d do felt great.

My next music festival adventure won’t be for a while (Reading and Leeds 2019?), but I’m already excited. Plus, I saw Morrissey take his shirt off and Mac in his briefs– how can I ever top that?