A Breath Of Fresh Flair, Cosmic Creek Does Dana Point
Just a few reasons Vissla's retro-festival has been welcomed and anticipated for over 20 years.
Cosmic Creek fills a void in Dana Point, California, whether intentionally or not.
In recent years, Vissla snagged the torch from Billabong and the bands hired went from the slack, lazy sounds of Donavon Frankenreiter to the surf/rock/punk/psych sounds of groups like Broadcast, Allah Las, The Babe Rainbow, and Tijuana Panthers.
Dana Point is a drowsy beach town with a rich surfing history – think Hobie Alter, Bruce Brown, John Severson, Ron Stoner. The region is family oriented, where the young but legal ones looking for a big night out have suffocated options. There’s Turks and Wind n Sea in the Harbor, there’s Hennessy's off PCH, and that’s about it as far as bars and nightlife are concerned. Those who want to get their kicks head into Laguna Beach, another sleepy beach/family town filled with rich surf history and several additional watering holes to fill cups, get loose and take an Uber or Lyft home by the time last call occurs—around 12:30 or 1 am, because nowhere is open late. Shooing out the riff-raff has long been the ethos of the area.
But when Cosmic Creek comes into town, the go-getters flock to Salt Creek in their newfound psychedelic 70s puffy coats, cat-eye shades and funky hats. They hang on the beach, watch the likes of Donald Brink and Terry Senate mow foam in an RV trailer on the sand. They capitalize on the Instagram opp of the Jason Woodside painted Cortex Cruiser – a vintage Mercedes that Vissla is currently giving away (enter here!).
It's simply irresistible!
New York artist, Jason Woodside and his fabulous lady. Hit the aforementioned link and win this car!
The groms play on the interactive art, this year being inflatables also designed by Mr. Woodside. They climb atop all six feet of them and do their darndest to leap from one puffed up shape to another, all to the fright of their parents and guardians. The fluffy white sand beach of Salt Creek is forgiving, thankfully.
By the time sun starts its great descent into Saturday night, chords plug into amps, and a bass drum and high hat begin to kick. Families, high school kids, those just home from college, and all the 25-to-40-somethings fill the natural amphitheater that is the Salt Creek hill. There’s wine and cheese, beach chairs and blankets, beers, hotdogs, and groms patiently nipping at their cheeks waiting for the main act to take the stage so they can mob down the hill in droves, giddy for a playful push fight in the name of dancing.
They await the first person to break the stage dive bubble, at which point they swarm like honey bees to spilled coke, crowd surfing and laughing and occasionally getting a little too aggressive for the music… The scene is adorable teenage angst, watching it unfold brought joy to this gently aging Stab Staffer - who grew up in the area and has seen the progression of Cosmic Creek for the majority of his lifetime. This year marked the 21st anniversary of the event.
Andrew Jacobson and Cam Richards enjoying a laugh beneath the tree.
Tanner Gudang wouldn't dare miss some good tunes on a grassy hill.
On Saturday, The Babe Rainbow were booked to cap off the evening but, unfortunately, they found themselves stuck in customs and Vissla found themselves in a headlining pickle. They called up a local favorite, the Long Beach garage-psych boppers, Tijuana Panthers, who rallied quick and at the first guitar lick, brought the party.
The next morning, the contest continued with the Professional division and extracurriculars on the beach including, but not limited to, a tie-dye station, the surf event itself, and attractive peaks down the beach. A trio of brothers played for the beach scene – Sea Cliff the band, a group of middle schoolers with an affection for punk rock. Then The Alive, another band starring two brothers and a friend followed them up. The Cosmic Creek daytime music bill almost always casts young kids with a devout knowledge of a fretboard and drum kit. The angst is palpable in all the right ways. Sea Cliff the band even played a grindy tune called "Middle School is Lame". A crowd favorite!
This puppy literally stole 1000 hearts on Saturday night.
For us, and Dana Point, Cosmic Creek is not about the contest. It’s fun to surf, and there are familiar heads in the event. This year the North Shore’s Ulu Boi took the win in the Pro Division, followed up by Malibu’s Andrew Jacobson. But even to the competitors, the competition that highlights strictly single fins and twinnies dating back to the 70s and 80s (nothing post-80s is allowed underfoot) is irreverent. It’s fun. And it’s the type of thing surfing needs in this era of athletes, training, and progression.
Cosmic Creek is a return to old fashioned values. And that’s something we’re happy to get behind, every goddamn time.
Long Beach's Tijuana Panthers were a welcome substitution for the Aussie rockers, The Babe Rainbow.