The first annual Darker Waves post-punk festival took place Saturday literally on the sands of Huntington Beach, Calif., taking up two sprawling seaside blocks of the famous surf city’s Pacific Coast Highway. And yes, the juxtaposition of New Order playing Joy Division’s “Love Will Tear Us Apart”; Echo and the Bunnymen’s laryngitis-stricken Ian McCulloch rasping through the Donnie Darko-popularized “The Killing Moon” and his Lost Boys soundtrack cover of the Doors’ “People Are Strange” with surprise guest Robbie Krieger; Soft Cell screeching through the electro BDSM fantasy “Sex Dwarf”; and the tunic-shrouded, kohl-eyed Philip Oakey amazingly intoning the Human League’s proto-synthpop 1978 classic “Being Boiled,” all against a backdrop of swaying palm trees and crashing ocean waves, might have seemed surprising to the uninitiated.
In the ‘80s, there was the L.A. deathrock scene, inspired by Old Hollywood’s decaying glamour and pioneered by bands like Christian Death and 45 Grave (both of whom played Darker Waves this weekend). In that same decade, L.A.'s KROQ was the first American radio station to champion the above-mentioned Second British Invasion acts, all of whom still have massive, adoring audiences in Los Angeles and Orange County. (In fact, bands like Depeche Mode and the Cure can still sell out multiple consecutive nights at the Hollywood Bowl as a direct result of KROQ’s decades of unwavering support.)