Archive for April, 2013

Mad Caddies performing Drinking For 11 at House of Blues at Downtown Disney in Anaheim, CA. Filmed on October 9, 2012.

Free Bread & Jam Tasting
5:00 pm – 7:00 pm, April 30
Blackmarket Bakery, Costa Mesa

Love bread and jam? Come to this free food tasting hosted by Blackmarket Bakery at The Camp in Costa Mesa this Tuesday evening, where guests may sample any of their various artisan breads and gourmet jams. As always, guests may park for free at The Camp, and guests of all ages may attend.

Face to Face and Teenage Bottlerocket – On Tour
7:00 pm – 12:00 am, May 1 & 4
May 1: House of Blues, San Diego
May 4: Glass House, Pomona

Punk band Face To Face just released a new album, and currently headlines a tour with Teenage Bottlerocket. That tour will sweep through Southern California this week. Blacklist Royals will open Wednesday’s show, while Death on Wednesday will open Saturday’s show. Tickets to both shows cost $25. For Wednesday only, no one under 21 may enter.

First Fridays
5:00 pm – 10:00 pm, May 3
Various locations
Long Beach:

This monthly artwalk occurs on the first Friday of every month. Each location offers different activities, but most will contain food & drink specials, art exhibits & displays, street performers, and more. Venice and Long Beach have the two largest gatherings of all First Fridays. Other locations include Westchester, Fullerton, and City of Industry. Most First Fridays locations cost nothing to attend, while the local businesses uphold their standard rules (e.g. bars 21+ only).

2nd Annual Chocolate Festival
7:00 pm – 10:00 pm, May 3
11:00 am – 4:00 pm, May 4-5
Maritime Museum, San Diego

A 2-in-1 event! On Friday, attend a seminar learning about the origin of chocolate, and receive wine and chocolate pairings all for $12. On Saturday and Sunday, guests of all ages can enjoy plenty of chocolate to eat, demos, arts & crafts, and more. Museum admission includes access to the chocolate area, which costs $16 for adults, with discounts applicable to seniors, military, and children.

Pancakes & Booze Art Show
8:00 pm – 2:00 am, May 3-4
Lot 613, Los Angeles

For just a $5 cover, guests get treated to unlimited pancakes and many artists from across the country showcasing their works. Guests can also witness body painting, stencil art, art battles, sculptures, graffiti, and more. Guests can park on the street for free, or park in the adjacent parking lot for $5. No one under 21 may enter.

Community Arts Fair & Flea Market
8:00 am – 3:00 pm, May 4
Long Beach Playhouse, Long Beach

Free to attend, this all-ages fair will feature local artists, antiques, arts & crafts, vendors, and more. Guests can park for free in the adjacent neighborhoods.

Cario Blast Fit Camp Kickoff Party
9:00 am – 11:00 am, May 4
Oceanview High School Gymnasium, Huntington Beach

Want to get fit in time for summer? Check out the grand opening kickoff party for Cardio Blast Fit Camp this Saturday morning at the gym of Oceanview High School in Huntington Beach. Open to all ages, guests can receive free wellness evaluations, body statistics measurements, nutrition Q&A, goodies, and more. Guests may also purchase raffle tickets to win prizes such as gift cards, health & beauty services, nutrition supplements, and more. The fitness class starts at 10am and costs $10 at the door, or $5 with RSVP via Facebook or phone. Guests may park for free at the high school parking lot off Warner.

Santa Monica Spring Jubilee
10:00 am – 10:00 pm, May 4-5
3rd Street Promenade, Santa Monica

At this free weekend festival, guests of all ages can celebrate British culture with food, drinks, flowers, vendors, merchandise, apparel, arts & crafts, activities, games, music, and more. Landscape professionals can show off their skills at the landscaping competition. Keep in mind that some freeway exits will get congested, and this area has few free parking, if none, so plan arrival accordingly.

Soka University’s 12th Annual International Festival
10:30 am – 5:30 pm, May 4
Soka University, Aliso Viejo

At this free festival, guests of all ages can enjoy music, dance, arts & crafts, artists, and more. Parking costs $10 per vehicle, so consider carpooling if attending.

1st Annual Heritage, Music & Arts Festival
11:00 am – 6:00 pm, May 4
Angel City Brewery, Downtown Los Angeles

Celebrate the culture and spirit of the Downtown LA Arts District at this festival, taking place at Angel City Brewery this Saturday. Local bands will play music all day, food trucks will serve food, brewers will lead brewery tours, and more activities will keep guests occupied. Guests pay no fee to enter, just the cost to purchase anything or participate in some activities. Parking for this event costs $4.

GURLSociety Arts & Crafts Fair
12:00 pm – 2:00 pm, May 4
Long Beach Opera, Long Beach

This free arts & crafts fair will have plenty of activities for guests of all ages. Expect live entertainment, workshops, crafts, giveaways, food, and more, all from local crafters.

4th Annual Los Angeles Vegan Beer Festival
1:00 pm – 6:00 pm, May 4
The Roxy, West Hollywood

Taste the best of Southern California’s vegan foods and craft beers at the 4th annual LA Vegan Beer Fest this Saturday afternoon at The Roxy in West Hollywood. For $40 presale and $50 at the door, attendees will receive unlimited beer pours for the duration of the festival. All food comes at additional costs, so bring cash. No one under 21 may attend. Arrive early, and plan to pay for parking. The fest takes place outdoors, so prepare accordingly with sunscreen and clothes for hot weather.

13th Annual Junior League of San Diego Food & Wine Festival
2:00 pm – 6:00 pm, May 4
La Jolla Cove, La Jolla

Taste food from many of San Diego’s finest restaurants, and sip on California’s great wines and craft beers at this festival. Guests can participate in a silent auction, while live music and painting will keep guests occupied. General admission costs $75 or two for $140. No one under 21 may attend.

3rd Annual Session Fest
4:00 pm – 10:00 pm, May 4
Eagle Rock Brewery, Eagle Rock

On the opposite side of strong ales lie session beers – beers lower in alcohol content while maximizing flavor. Brewers created session ales so that craft beer lovers can drink more in a session without going overboard, especially with strong ales or hoppy beers. Eagle Rock Brewery started Session Fest two years ago to encourage new craft beer drinkers to enjoy what breweries can offer, and they will repeat the fest again this Saturday evening. For just $15, guests will receive three pints of any session beer featured at the tasting room, in addition to keeping the glass they receive to drink out of. Guests may purchase additional drink tickets if desired. No one under 21 may participate.

Voodoo Glow Skulls + more @ DiPiazzas
7:00 pm – 1:00 am, May 4
DiPiazzas, Long Beach

Catch the Voodoo Glow Skulls, Left Alone, Profesor Galactico, South Central Skankers, Shoplifters, Isolated Victims, Schizm, and more this Saturday night at DiPiazzas in Long Beach. Tickets to this all-ages show cost $13 presale and $15 at the door.

3rd Annual Artisan Food & Craft Beer Festival
12:00 pm – 3:00 pm, May 5
Stone Brewing Co., Escondido

Celebrate Cinco de Mayo responsibly at Stone Brewing’s 3rd annual Artisan Food & Craft Beer Fest at their facility. For $55, guests will enjoy 14 tapas-style dishes paired with up to 23 different craft beers. Admission covers tax and tip. As always, guests may park for free at Stone. No one under 21 may attend.

Chencha Berrinches + more @ DiPiazzas
6:00 pm – 12:00 am, May 5
DiPiazzas, Long Beach

Get your ska on for Cinco de Mayo with Chencha Berrinches, Matamoska, La Infinita, ONK, Rompe Cabezas, Rebelion 68, Destruction Made Simple, Damn I Forgot, and Los Brigands at DiPiazzas in Long Beach. Tickets to this all-ages show only cost $10.

Manic Hispanic, CJ Ramone, CH3, The Henchman @ The Observatory
7:00 pm – 1:00 am, May 5
The Observatory, Santa Ana

Celebrate Cinco de Mayo with Manic Hispanic and more this Sunday night at The Observatory in Santa Ana. Tickets to this all-ages punk rock show cost $17.

Everyone should comprehend basic consumer behavior. When it comes to supply & demand, both move in opposite directions, so when one goes up, the other goes down. Anyone can deduce a conclusion based on recent shifts in consumer purchasing, but conclusions wrap up past observations, not upcoming. Economists can easily theorize that when enough consumers demand the product, they will pay more for the product. Sometimes, the demand lies in the middle area, between high demand where everybody needs it, and low demand where providing the product counts as a loss. When this occurs, business owners offer the product for a limited time or quantity. McDonald’s has capitalized on this concept with their McRib, which many people love but not love enough, so by bringing it back for a short time every year, the lack of supply increases the overall demand. Make anything limited, and the people will tend to flock towards those things. Beachwood BBQ also understands this concept of introducing something special for a one-time engagement.

Legendary among the locals, Beachwood BBQ understands what their constituents want. They hold events often at both their Seal Beach and Long Beach locations, which vary from food events to beer events to music events and more. The Seal Beach location sees a full house nightly, and the owners know what draws people in. But when they see certain aspects start to falter, they fix it up right away, either by improving it or by creating a limited-edition of it. In the case of their Mac & Cheese, fans love it so much that Beachwood BBQ decided to hold a one-time build-your-own-mac-and-cheese night. After the first iteration’s overwhelming praise over a year ago, they returned to it two months later, and from there, Beachwood BBQ started the monthly food series. After a string of different types of special food nights, they returned to the classic – Mac & Cheese.

Reinventing the wheel once again, Beachwood BBQ departs its past Mac & Cheese night menus. The selection of pasta, cheese, veggies, and meats changes each time Beachwood BBQ hosts this kind of night. For my dish, I selected rigatoni, truffle cheddar, basil & thyme, green onions, roasted garlic, butternut squash, caramelized onions, duck confit, venison meatballs, and a fried egg. The ingredients in bold stood out the most, as those provide a strong and savory flavor. I selected all other ingredients to balance the dish and the previous three ingredients, although in hindsight, I should have selected a tart ingredient in place of the green onion, such as sun-dried tomatoes. They also did not cook the pasta all the way, as the pasta felt tough at first. After going through a decent portion of the dish, the pasta started softening, which meant the pasta continued cooking in the skillet dish. As customary, they top all their mac & cheeses with sprinkled breadcrumbs and parsley.

Traditionally, Beachwood BBQ had hosted special food nights like this every two months. This night stepped out of the ordinary by taking place only a month following their last food night. Will this spell the beginning of monthly food events instead of bi-monthly? Only time will tell, as they have not posted anything regarding future food events on their website or Facebook page. But if you love to dine out where you can customize your food like this, do not miss the next food event here at Beachwood BBQ. Follow them on Facebook and/or Twitter for further updates.

The 39th Annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach wrapped up its weeks of festivities this past weekend in Downtown Long Beach. As Long Beach’s largest annual event, the grand prix attracts tens of thousands of race fans from across the globe to spectate the races and immerse in Southern California culture. Like any large outdoor event, attendees should take extra precaution to endure the weather conditions, which in the case of the grand prix usually consists of adequate hydration and sunscreen application. Regular attendees know to stick to the normal game plan, as the layout of the grand prix remains consistent every year. However, those attending for the first time may feel overwhelmed by all the path closures, stairs, ramps, and temporary paths. Even the map provided by the grand prix explains little without a veteran explaining the map. Read on for further clarity on how to navigate the grand prix, as the layout will likely remain the same next year.

Five public entrances exist for the grand prix. The main entrance lies directly in front of the performing arts center, where Long Beach Blvd ends. Guests without tickets can purchase tickets here or pick up tickets from will call.

Entering via the main entrance places guests on a platform directly above the back straightaway of the race track.

Moving further towards the front of the track, guests will find all of the main activities that guests can participate in. These include the celebrity car paddock, hospitality village, go kart track, indy car paddock, and one of the entrances to the lifestyle expo, an expo for all things automobiles.

Leaving the lifestyle expo going east, guests will discover the hospitality village, filled with more active lifestyle vendors, plus the location of the Formula Drift competition area. Crossing over the track at this point places guests at the Exotic Car Paddock, where guests can exhibit and take pictures with rare and/or expensive cars.

From the hospitality village area, moving towards the starting line will have guests face two bridges, one of which will take guests over to the Marina Green side, which we will cover in just a bit. A second bridge running parallel to the track going west serves as a shortcut for reaching Turns 6 & 7.

Slightly west of the main entrance lies another entrance to the grand prix, in case the main entrance starts to overflow. Unlike the main entrance, this straightforward entrance serves as a direct path from Marina Green to the Ocean Blvd exit. This entrance places guests directly above Turn 8 of the race track, a common spot for racers to wipe. From this area, guests can reach the main entrance area by traveling into the convention center’s west entrance and navigating through the lifestyle expo.

Moving further inward from this entrance, guests will discover one of the main general admission viewing areas – a bridge going over Shoreline Drive. From this vista, guests receive a vantage point over Turns 6 & 7, as well as the straightaway following the starting line. Guests could also spot two of the ramps used in the Super Truck demonstration that occurred Sunday late morning. In order to reach the viewing area for Turn 6 from here, guests must take the stairs going down from the convention center’s west entrance, walk south, then take the temporary bridge going towards The Pike.

Reaching the end of the bridge will place guests at a split – go west towards The Pike, or go east towards Shoreline Village and the starting line. For the duration of the grand prix, all businesses at The Pike and Shoreline Village remained open for business, so guests could opt to eat and/or drink there instead of at vendors.

All entrances will eventually converge at Marina Green, which faces the starting line. From the main entrance, taking the main path places you here. From the second entrance, moving east at the split at the end of the first bridge places you at Marina Green after moving past Shoreline Village. Once at Marina Green, guests will find behind the grandstands a lengthy row of food & drink vendors. Also behind the grandstands, guests can find the food truck village.

Marina Green stretches far along the race track, which consists of half of the straightaway where the starting line lies. This creates plenty of space for spectators to approach the fence for either a closer look or to take pictures. Two additional public entrances exist for guests to take here at Marina Green, although I have never personally taken either entrance. Guests may enter at the far east end, or for those that purchased a Marina parking pass, they may enter directly from the parking lot.

If guests move west towards The Pike, they will discover more restaurants and more viewing areas, especially near Turn 1. To get to the other side by Turn 6 from here, guests must travel west towards the aquarium, take the temporary bridge, climb up more stairs (great view of Turn 2 here), cross the bridge going over Shoreline Drive (can view Turn 5 from here), then take the only stairs down. The last public entrance lies here at The Pike.

For any major race during the weekend, you will want to end up at Turn 6 sooner or later. This turn certainly stirs up the most buzz among race fans. Many wipes occur on this turn due to racers attempting to pass right here. The tight turn also means a racer could accidentally run into the girder. Race fans receive a convenient view of a monitor showing the race live as well as real-time results, and plenty of speakers allows guests to hear the commentators between racers passing by. Lastly, winners will usually performs donuts at this turn following the race.

Hopefully this guide helped you better understand the layout of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. This layout has remained the same for at least the past four years because it works. Navigating this course without a plan can leave many tourists lost and confused, and they end up wasting a lot of time trying to figure out how to reach a certain point. Some tourists may get frustrated and not return due to the complexity of getting around the area. But once you attend and build a visual map for yourself, you will discover that all the paths and bridges make sense. For next year, I suggest obtaining a free ticket to the grand prix on a Friday – every year, countless promotions exist allowing guests free entry on the Friday of grand prix weekend. Do not miss this opportunity, as this will determine if you will enjoy the races or not as a first-time visitor.

On a night filled with many other larger concerts, such as Green Day, Bad Religion, or 2 Chainz, the smaller shows quickly get weeded out. Regardless of scheduling problems, true fans always know where to find the bands they love. Punk rock listeners would not have wanted to miss last Thursday night’s show at The Vex, headlined by One Way System, The Briggs, D.I., and more. Featuring three major names in punk rock, this small venue also boasted three additional opening bands, free charcoal caricatures, plenty of band merchandise, and a cash bar. A few food vendors set up outside in the patio area as well, though nothing spectacular. The layout of the patio lends well for a food truck or two to serve, but the venue sells its own hot food, which explains why food trucks never come here. For a multi-purpose venue, event organizers have free range to make the room appear how they want, but for a punk rock show, the crowd only wanted to rock out all night.

As no strangers to the stage, Destruction Made Simple opened the night. I had not seen these guys since Warped Tour 2002, so I made it a priority to arrive to this show early enough to catch every band. For a band that has stuck it out for over a decade, they deserve a higher spot on the night’s bill than opener. This LA band plays typical fast west coast punk rock, the type of music that cranks a circle pit up to max speed. Although they had recently released a new album, DMS preferred to play much of their older material. They closed their set out with 21 Year Plan, one of their more well-known songs. If you would like to see DMS live this week, check out the link to the show here.

Bad Samaritans took a long time to set up for their next set, leaving much of the crowd confused. They started 20 minutes later than their set time range, yet played the full duration of their set. These guys sound true to a garage punk band than anyone else in the night. They did not bring any CDs or other merchandise to sell because as the vocalist puts it, “That requires effort, and we’re lazy.” A lazy band does not stir up the crowd, and the crowd remained silent for most of the set. Their late start time would spill over to the next band.

LA hardcore punk band Mass Terror set up for their set following Bad Samaritans. Their drummer could not make the show, so One Way System’s drummer filled in. This would not make a huge difference, because thanks to Bad Samaritans starting late, Mass Terror’s set got cut significantly shorter. But from what the crowd did hear of them, Mass Terror played some mean music, resembling a mix of Hatebreed and Agnostic Front. Fans of hardcore punk will want to see Mass Terror again soon. They have a show in Tijuana next month, but aside from that, they have not announced any future US shows.

The first headliner of the night set up on stage next. D.I. vocalist Casey Royer had arrived at the venue during Mass Terror’s set, so everyone could already spot him. Once Royer approached the stage, the crowd saw his trademark gesture of speaking about completely off-topic statements. For the most part, no one could understand what he spoke of, but he kept going despite confused looks from the crowd. Their set list had not changed much since the last time I saw them – D.I. played hits like Amoeba and Johnny’s Got A Problem, and ended their set with Weapons. Royer never missed an opportunity to say something to the crowd, even when he did not understand what he had just talked about. Royer’s antics combined with the band’s relentless punk rock music made for an entertaining set necessary to break the mood from slower openers.

Considered the main headliner, The Briggs left their set list out while they set up, so I grabbed a picture of it while I still could. As one of LA’s fastest rising bands, The Briggs drew a large crowd to The Vex, despite Bad Religion and Green Day holding concerts elsewhere in LA that same time. The Briggs did not put on any bells or whistles – they played all their songs consecutively without any breaks longer than half a minute. They kept up the energy the entire time, even when obsessed punks jumped on stage to sing along. Because of the venue’s small size, the venue did not carry security, so any punk jumping on the stage could remain there as long as they wanted, and this sure did happen, especially during The Briggs’ closing song This Is LA. These distractions did not take away too much from the main performance, as the rest of the band continued the songs minus vocals.

Finally, One Way System took to the stage following some hiccups with cables and microphones. This street punk band holds true to their UK roots and plays music exactly like you would hear it in the 80’s (the band formed in 1979), complete with the British accent. Following the clamor of The Briggs, the lack of venue security allowed punks to jump onto the stage unimpeded and attempt to sing along with the band. However, One Way System wised up and would not allow it, so when given the chance, the vocalist or another band member would push an out-of-place punk back down into the pit. One Way System played mainly their old hits, but also included a few new tracks.

Good punk shows like this rarely come around. Luckily, I usually discover them within a week, so if you want to attend a show, check my blog every Monday for a list of upcoming events in Southern California.

Punk rock icon Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo School of Medicine headlined a show last Wednesday night at Alex’s Bar in Long Beach. As one of the pioneers of punk rock, Jello Biafra’s presence attracted a large and diverse crowd. One could spot guests as young as 21 and as old as 70 in this crowd. Jello’s political views also managed to draw in non-punk rock listeners just to listen to his musings between songs. But before we could get to Jello, three other local bands opened up the night with their sets.

Kicking off the night, White Murder entertained the crowd with their dueling female singers. Their sound did not resemble typical punk rock; rather, their music carried a hard yet indie sound to it. Imagine a cross between Bikini Kill and Sahara Hotnights to better understand White Murder’s sound. Whereas one singer in a band typically carries the melody, with White Murder, both vocalists sang different parts to create harmony in their songs. Fans of indie rock will definitely want to check out White Murder soon to discover something great.

Up next, Death Hymn Number 9 clamored to the stage with their strange and unique set. Appearing as zombies or ghouls, these guys come off as a total surprise during the show. Upon initial appearance, the guitarist remained seated during the entire performance, a rarity in the punk rock industry. The vocalist and bassist liked to spend time down on the floor with the crowd, screaming and moving with the sway of the crowd. Speaking of screaming, their music style did not match any preconceived notions of guests not familiar with the band. Once the vocalist let loose, all guests received an earful of thrash punk core music. They did not stop to humor the guests between songs – they kept the fast pace up the entire time. If not for the headliner, Death Hymn Number 9 wins for most entertaining act of the night.

Ominous winds blow about as the hour for Jello Biafra neared. Once the dust settled, Spindrift waltzed through the fog. This psychedelic rock band played 95% instrumentals and 5% vocals, sticking with their western theme throughout the set. As a break from a punk rock night, the music mainly flowed slowly, as if telling a story with music. One could certainly envision hearing this type of music around a campfire while telling ghost stories. However, the slowness of the music plus the fact that they did not pause between songs made their set feel dragging. Their set also lasted 40 minutes, twice as long as the prior two bands, which only played for 20 minutes each. I understand that the second-to-last band gets more time than openers, but when a band does not match the genre of the rest of the bands, they cannot stay on stage as long as they did.

Jello Biafra did not hide anything prior to his set. Once the band had finished setting up, they took their respective spots, while Jello decided to warm up outside the bar. All fans eagerly awaited as Jello fired himself up for his lengthy set. Jello needed all the energy he could muster, as he rarely took any dead time during the set. Whenever given a chance, such as between songs or during instrumental sections in songs, Jello would go into some sort of ranting about politics. In fact, during California Über Alles, Jello stretched the middle bridge section to a few minutes just to rant about the corruption in government. The crowd initially received Jello very well, remaining in place while jamming to the music. By a few songs into the set, the crowd finally woke up and started the pit… a delayed reaction, perhaps. This relentless energy kept up all the way to the end of the set, but everyone could tell that the band would return for an encore. Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo School of Medicine returned for a two-song encore, where they played a new song, then ended the night with Holiday In Cambodia. Coincidentally, Cambodian New Year had just ended a day prior.

Any fan of punk rock simply must watch Jello Biafra perform live. Jello made a surprise appearance with the Dead Kennedys at Coachella this year, but how many times can he truly appear with them now? You can catch the Dead Kennedys at Ink-N-Iron this June, but no one knows if the set will include a special cameo by Jello. Plenty more great punk rock shows will take place in the upcoming weeks, so bookmark this blog and check back every week for upcoming events in Southern California.

Pasadena Restaurant Week
Business hours, Now through April 26
Various restaurants, Pasadena

Between April 21 and April 26, 45 different restaurants in Pasadena will offer prix-fixe lunches and/or dinners. In addition, some locations will offer other discounts, prizes, and more. See the full list of participating restaurants by clicking the link to the website above.

The Revival Tour: Chuck Ragan (Hot Water Music), Tim McIlrath (Rise Against), Dave Hause (The Loved Ones), Jenny O.@ The Observatory
7:00 pm – 12:00 am, April 22
The Observatory, Santa Ana

Punk rock goes acoustic with this tour, which stops by The Observatory TONIGHT. Tickets to this all-ages show cost $18.

Tap Takeover: Old Orange Brewing
6:00 pm – 10:00 pm, April 23
Beachfront Bar & Grill, Huntington Beach

Old Orange Brewing will take over the taps at Beachfront Bar & Grill this Tuesday night, courtesy of the Beer Punks. Come in any time at night and enjoy some brews from Old Orange. Also, catch Jason Cruz & The Howl performing live later in the night.

Build Your Own Mac ‘N Cheese Night
5:00 pm – 10:00 pm, April 24
Beachwood BBQ, Seal Beach

Beachwood BBQ throws a special food night every month or two, each with a different type of food, such as chili or ribs. This time, they return to what started it all with their Build Your Own Mac ‘N Cheese Night. Pick the pasta, cheese, herbs, veggies, and meat, and pair it with a nice craft beer or two.

Dishcrawl Long Beach
7:00 pm – 11:00 pm, April 24
Cambodia Town, Long Beach

Get a taste of Cambodian culture by celebrating Cambodian New Year at this installment of Dishcrawl Long Beach. For $45, attendees will feast on a four-course dinner across four different restaurants. Attendees will receive an e-mail on the day of the event detailing where to meet and when.

Tap Takeover: Iron Fist / Latitude 33
6:00 pm – 10:00 pm, April 25
The Factory Gastrobar, Bixby Knolls, Long Beach

Two young breweries from Vista, CA will visit The Factory this Thursday night to stock the taps with their magnificent brews. Both breweries will take over the taps, and guests can meet the brewers from both breweries as well! Come drink some great beers, all at $4 per pint.

Alkaline Trio with Bayside @ The Observatory
7:00 pm – 12:00 am, April 25
The Observatory, Santa Ana

Alkaline Trio currently tours with Bayside, and you can catch both of them this Thursday night at The Observatory in Santa Ana. Tickets to this all-ages show cost $25.

Nathan Maxwell (Flogging Molly), Jesse & Jeff (The Aggolites), and more @ Alex’s Bar
8:00 pm – 1:00 am, April 25
Alex’s Bar, Long Beach

Nathan Maxwell, bassist for Flogging Molly, conducts a respectable solo tour. Catch him, Jesse & Jeff from The Aggrolites, and more this Thursday night at Alex’s Bar. Tickets cost $8. No one under 21 may enter.

Japanese Sweets Fair
11:00 am – 9:00 pm, April 26-28
Mitsuwa Marketplace, Torrance

Browse through a plethora of sweet treats made in Japan all weekend at Mitsuwa Marketplace in Torrance. Open to all ages, every treat will vary in price, so have cash available with you.

Guttermouth, Destruction Made Simple, Whitekaps, Throne, The Grim @ Characters Sports Bar
8:00 pm – 2:00 am, April 26
Characters Sports Bar, Pomona

Catch Guttermouth, Destruction Made Simple, Whitekaps, Throne, and The Grim this Friday night at Characters Sports Bar in Pomona. Tickets to this punk rock show cost $13 presale and $15 at the door. No one under 21 may attend.

March for Babies Los Angeles Walk
8:30 am – 12:30 pm, April 27
Exposition Park, Los Angeles

Walk to raise money for Miller’s Children Hospital. Walk as an individual or as a team. Proceeds benefit the March of Dimes NICU Signature Program at Miller Children’s and will fund research to help prevent premature birth.

18th Annual Uptown Whittier Spring Antique Street Faire
9:00 am – 4:00 pm, April 27
Greenleaf Avenue, Uptown Whittier

Check out over 90 vendors selling collectibles, jewelry, art, furniture, glassware, and more at this street fair this Saturday. Free to attend for all ages, guests will find many rare merchandise from local businesses and home vendors. Guests can dine at any of the local establishments, which will remain open under their normal business hours. Guests can park for free on the street in adjacent neighborhoods.

2013 Cambodian New Year Celebration
9:00 am – 5:00 pm, April 27
El Dorado Park, Long Beach

Celebrate Cambodian New Year this Saturday in Long Beach with traditional & modern performances, live music, arts & crafts, games, food, vendors, and more. Tickets plus parking to this all-ages festival cost $30 presale and $40 at the gate.

30th Annual Encinitas Street Fair
9:00 am – 5:00 pm, April 27-28
South Coast Hwy 101, Encinitas

This FREE street fair takes place this weekend in Encinitas. Featuring 450 unique food, arts & crafts vendors, five music stages, rides & games, and a beer garden hosted by Stone Brewing and Port Brewing, people of all ages will enjoy this street fair. Due to the compact nature of this area, parking can get extremely difficult to locate. Arrive early, or take public transportation to arrive safely.

Norma Coombs Alternative School Spring Fair
10:00 am – 3:00 pm, April 27
Norma Coombs Alternative School, Pasadena

This local school will host local craft vendors, food trucks, live music, and more. Completely free to attend for all ages, this fair caters towards families, so bring the young ones and have a fun time.

Spring 2013 Brewery Art Walk
11:00 am – 6:00 pm, April 27-28
Brewery Art Association, Los Angeles

This FREE semiannual art walk features hundreds of residents artists showcasing their finest work. Guests may even purchase art they like from the artists. Free to park and enter for all ages, the facility even includes an in-house restaurant, so bring your friends and family to look at some great art.

29th Annual Mission Federal ArtWalk
11:00 am – 6:00 pm, April 27-28
Little Italy, San Diego

Free to the public, this art walk takes up 17 blocks of Little Italy filled with over 350 artists. All throughout the fest, guests can discover music and dance performances, and plenty of kids’ activities.

Taps 1st Annual Craft Brew Festival
12:00 pm – 3:00 pm, April 27
Taps Fish House, Brea

Taps Fish House & Brewery will host their first annual craft beer festival this Saturday afternoon at their Orange County location. For $50, guests will receive 15 beer tickets and unlimited tastings of various foods catered by the restaurant. At least 16 breweries will make an appearance in addition to Taps’ own brews. Since the restaurant will remain open to the public, this fest will most likely take place in the parking lot behind the building. No one under 21 may enter.

Adams Avenue Unplugged
12:00 pm – 10:00 pm, April 27
12:00 pm – 8:00 pm, April 28
Adams Avenue, San Diego

Completely free to the public, guests will spectate 180 live music acts throughout the day all in the various local businesses and multiple stages. The city will also offer free trolley service to transport guests from one end to the other.

Bite Flite
6:00 pm – 9:00 pm, April 27
Bar & Garden, Culver City

Sample burgers, beers, and desserts at this food pairing dinner this Saturday in Culver City. The $15 admission includes a 4-beer flight, cake truffles from Velvet Rope Bake Shop, a tote bag full of goodies, and sliders (additional cost). No one under 21 may attend.

The Adolescents, The Dickies, Shattered Faith, The Crowd @ House of Blues Anaheim
7:00 pm – 12:00 am, April 27
House of Blues, Anaheim

Legendary punk band The Adolescents headline a show with The Dickies, Shattered Faith, and The Crowd this Saturday night at House of Blues at Downtown Disney in Anaheim. Tickets to this all-ages show cost $19 presale and $22 on the day of the show.

2013 Taste of Huntington Beach
11:00 am – 4:00 pm, April 28
Huntington Beach Sports Complex, Huntington Beach

Sample the flavors of Huntington Beach’s local restaurants this Sunday at their food fest. Admission includes unlimited food samples and wine & beer tasters. General admission costs $65 and starts at 12pm, while VIP costs $85 and starts at 11am. VIP comes with complimentary champagne, extra hors d-oeuvres, free raffle entries, and free goodies. For both admissions, designated drivers will save $5, which only means they cannot receive any wine or beer.

Bootlegger’s Brewery 5th Anniversary Music & Beer Fest
1:00 pm – 5:00 pm, April 28
Muckenthaler Cultural Center, Fullerton

Celebrate Bootlegger’s Brewery’s 5th anniversary at their music & beer fest this Sunday in Fullerton. The $30 admission includes 10 beer tasters, a souvenir glass, over 30 brews including rares and limited brews, food trucks, live music, access to the venue’s art gallery, a bull ride, bocce ball, dunk tank, and more. No one under 21 may attend.

Atwater Village Beer, Wine, & Food Festival
12:00 pm – 6:00 pm, April 28
Atwater Village

Check out local breweries, local vendors, food & drinks, live music, and more this Sunday at Atwater Village. VIP tickets cost $40 presale and $50 at the fest, starts at 12pm, receives 24 beer tasters and a free goodie bag. General admission costs $30 presale and $40 at the fest, and comes with 12 tasters. Designated driver tickets cost $15 presale and $20 at the fest.

8th Annual Taste of Orange
3:00 pm – 7:00 pm, April 28
Orange Circle, Old Town Orange

Sample the local flavors of Old Town Orange this Sunday at their annual Taste of Orange event. For $40, guests receive unlimited food samples, beer & wine tastings (additional cost), access to silent auctions, opportunity drawings, photo booth, and more.

Mad Caddies performing Tired Bones at House of Blues at Downtown Disney in Anaheim, CA. Filmed on October 9, 2012.

Did you watch Season 6 (2011) of America’s Got Talent? If so, do you remember Sandou Trio Russian Bar, the magnificent high-flying acrobatic act that made it all the way to the semifinals? Recall what happened in the semifinals. In spite of all positive momentum, the trio abandoned their danger act and converted to a singing act. This sudden spontaneous “mood swing” ultimately caused their downfall, and disappointed many who had placed a great deal of faith in them. Lesson learned: stick to one or a few of your best skills, and build on them. When you branch out and start trying something new with no prior experience, that recipe will only end in failure. Suffice to say, here in Southern California, the folks at the Santa Fe Springs Swap Meet attempted this same feat of hosting an event in unfamiliar territory.

The Santa Fe Springs Swap Meet decided to hold a Spring Craft Beer Festival this past Saturday night. Known for its attraction to budget-conscious customers, this swap meet usually books local tribute bands to keep customers entertained on weekends. However, this past weekend, they wanted to try something different by adding craft beer to the mix. With a forlorn stubborn attitude, the organizers marched head-on into battle, unaware of the consequences. As per the above visual, once the 6:30 start time came around, all guests remained on the outside in one massively long line. Does this remind you of something? When the event staff cannot properly handle incoming attendees, already you can tell something went wrong. As I waited in line, I discovered that nearly everyone else in line had never attended a beer fest prior to this. I feel sorry that their first beer fest greeted them with this long line, and an even bigger frustration to come.

Once the guests enter, each guest receives only five drink tickets, good for a 7oz pour of beer each. Five drink tickets * 7oz pours = two pints plus a sampler. Consider that presale costs $15, and the more recent tickets cost $25 each. Does the swap meet care that much about money to blatantly rip off guests that much? Also, for a sold-out beer fest, it took place in a small, cramped picnic area in the center of the swap meet. Even the food trucks struggled to fit snugly between the poles in the picnic area. All the breweries represented did not bring any special or limited beers – anybody could purchase any of the beers available here elsewhere all year round. Most of the breweries represented did not bring any representatives from the brewery to this fest – only Stone and Hangar 24 sent a representative.

If you thought the line to enter the fest took too long to get through, you had not seen anything yet. Even the staff from the Grilled Cheese Truck, notorious for bringing long lines of customers everywhere, could not believe what transpired at this beer fest. At a typical beer fest, a line forms for every brewery or every beer available at the fest. This beer fest decided to keep most of the beer in one location: the booth by the picnic area. The result? One endlessly long line of people trying to drink some beer tasters. This line stretched all the way to the entrance of the fest, then curled back around. Just to add salt to the abrasion, all attendees could only receive up to two beers at a time. I should not have to describe the anger and frustration of all the guests in line, as it goes without saying. The swap meet’s staff that ran the beer taps would not even bend the rules to make life easier for the guests, choosing to operate strictly by the book. For an event advertised as a beer fest, this fest operated nothing like a full-fledged beer fest, and will sadly leave a sour taste in many of the attendees’ mouths. Personally, I believe that most of the attendees purchased the entry ticket moreso for the bands than the beer.

Furthermore, the organizers offered 100 VIP tickets for this fest. VIP ticketholders received access to a side area with less congestion, complimentary food, and a no-wait line for unlimited beer. Once I stepped foot into this zone, a massive wave of relief swept over me, as I felt all the pent up stress just wash away. Thanks to Garlic Scapes for getting me in to this area. Usually for a beer fest with VIP tickets, guests expect a narrow ratio of VIP to general admission; however, with only 100 VIP tickets sold compared to the over a thousand general admission, a ratio of less than 10% seems unfair. Perhaps this VIP area represents a metaphor for the social unbalance of the community, where the rich and fortunate enjoy luxury, while the working class must slave away to barely get by. Perhaps I peered too deep into this, and just needed an outlet for my frustration of a bad beer fest.

Of course, I cannot dock them for all the mistakes, because they committed fixable mistakes. The long lines caused the most concerns, and the organizers can circumvent that problem by planning ahead. For the entrance line, simply adapt the wristband method that all major beer fests use. Instead of one line to enter and check ID’s and tickets, have a separate line for checking tickets in and receiving wristbands for quick entry. This allows guests to pick up their wristband before the event starts, and prevents wasting much time in a line to get in. This also makes it easier for security to allow guests in, as guests simply have to show the wristband. As for the long line to receive beer, no beer fest keeps all the beer in one spot. They have to disperse the beer all around the fest area, which will disperse the single long line into multiple shorter lines. To not knock on the food trucks, do not allow vendors selling cheaper, lower quality food to operate. This fest not only had a guy selling cheap bags of popcorn, but another guy selling $2 hot dogs out of a cart.

Sadly, many guests entered this beer fest as their first beer fest ever, not knowing what to expect. After such a lousy time, most of them will not even want to consider a beer fest anymore in the future. I will admit – some get it right, others get it wrong. I have seen quite an amount of bad beer fests, but I have seen more of the better beer fests. This goes without saying, but always research any event you plan to attend to gain a glimpse of what to expect. The Santa Fe Springs Swap Meet would like to hold another beer fest within the next year. Will they get it right? Will just as many people attend the next one? Only time will tell. We can only hope they will move in the right direction.

On a cloudy April day, the sound of screeching tires reverberated throughout Downtown Long Beach, reminding everyone present that the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach lies just around the corner. With only a week left until the grand event, Formula Drift: Streets of Long Beach utilized the track to provide plenty of racing and drifting action for race fans. Currently in its tenth season, Formula Drift utilizes turns 9, 10, and 11 of the grand prix track for racers to show off their drifting skills. Although this track has existed since 1977, Formula Drift has raced on this track for eight consecutive years. With more racers entering and cars getting faster every year, race fans can expect a loud and fast time.

Upon entering, attendees immediately find themselves immersed in the massive vendor village full of race cars, automobile merchandise vendors, and import models. Just like during the grand prix, the parking lot east of the convention center houses a plethora of cars and trucks, some of which guests may view up close or even sit in. Plenty of corporate sponsors around the vendor village provide interactions and/or free goodies for guests. Over on the side, guests will discover a mini skate park, complete with demos from local skateboarders and in-line roller skating from local roller derby gals.

The actual drifting course occurs close to the end of the race track, consisting of a hard right turn (turn 9), a wide left turn (turn 10), followed by a hairpin turn going right (turn 11). The first turn serves as a warmup compared to the second half, where drivers have to carefully drift wide to the left, then abruptly swing right to make the hairpin turn. I snapped the following photos between the first two turns:

On the other side of the race track from the entrance, guests could peruse through the Slammed Society Car Show. Contrary to the name, this show does not display slammed cars, but rather it showcases import cars owned by locals. In this entire parking lot, guests could gaze at all the vehicles, and ask owners about information about the car and the customization work done on the car.

For those who have not attended the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach in the past, Formula Drift barely scratches the surface of the transformation of southwest Long Beach into the grand prix area. Grans Prix action already starts tonight with Roar in The Shore, where race fans can find race cars on display and obtain racer autographs in front of Legends in Belmont Shore. Tomorrow, race fans will find action in Downtown Long Beach with Tecate Light Thunder Thursday, complete with motorcycle stunts, more race cars on display, racer autographs, a rock wall, live music, and more. Come this weekend though, nearly all the streets around the grand prix will shut down, and security will significantly increase, especially due to the recent bombing in Boston.

If you have not obtained tickets to the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach yet, you can still purchase tickets online on their website (linked at the top of this post). If you plan to purchase unreserved general admission for Saturday and/or Sunday, use promo code csulb3 to receive a discount. Race fans of all ages can attend, and racing events take place throughout the day, so attendees can catch a race at most times of the day. Consult the website to further read about the race schedule, but know that the celebrity race takes place in the early afternoon on Saturday, and the grand prix takes place Sunday afternoon. Ticket prices vary by type, but a general admission weekend pass costs $70. The massive area that the grand prix covers features multiple entrances, so visitors do not need to seek out any particular entrance – just the entrance most convenient to them. All visitors must mind the increased traffic in & around Long Beach during this weekend, plus the multiple street closures. Preferably, public transportation remains the same price, so visitors should look into that option. As the races take place entirely outdoors, attendees should prepare for the excess heat with sunblock and plenty of hydration. Most if not all of the vendors accept cash only, but attendees can still access businesses in Shoreline Village, which will accept cards. Try to dine at local establishments over the vendors in the fest, as those vendors will sell overpriced food that tastes bland, while the local places will serve either a full or modified menu, but with access to a full kitchen, meaning better quality food.