Archive for December, 2013

2013 comes to a close, marking the end of old fads and the birth of new trends. News that forever shifts the face of the earth break regularly, creating history that we all live through, albeit we simply take it with a grain of salt. We must keep in mind that the next generation will view what we live through today as history, so we should care for what goes on in today’s world and economy. As time progresses, so do trends and tastes, which explains the ever-rising popularity of craft beer and micro breweries. Corporate beer manufacturers saw significantly lower sales this year – while still relatively high compared to most micro breweries, the sales did not keep up with growth. In the craft beer industry, event planners hold beer festivals to generate buzz about many different types of beers to the guests that attend. Traditional beer fests had guests pay an entry fee and enter an area where they can freely roam and drink, usually in some public area where people cannot drink on normal days. Some beer fests require drink tickets to receive beers, while others provide all-you-can-drink beer. 2013 provided some new fest structures, but in the end, the goal of exposing attendees to new, amazing beers that they have never heard of or ever imagined drinking remains the same. California caters well to the craft beer industry, and as such host many beer fests throughout the year. Read on to check out five of my favorite Southern Californian beer festivals from 2013.

5. Drink Good Beer Fest

With all these big beer fests going on around this time of year, we tend to overlook the smaller crowd. A beer fest comes with a handful of objectives: provide lots of beer for attendees to drink (quantity), or invite micro breweries that need exposure (quality). Oktoberfest provides a prime example of the former – attracting thousands of people to one location to guzzle bad overpriced beer. When you want to find good beers but have no idea where to start, a beer fest makes for a great place to start, as it exposes attendees to a variety of local beers. Some larger beer fests get dominated by larger companies like Budweiser or Corona, so in order to seek out the locals, we have to look at smaller fests. In terms of any type of food & beverage festival, size does not always mean everything, and Drink Good Beer Fest at The Factory in Long Beach proves just that. All the breweries at this fest brought so much beer, and most of them brought their strong stuff too, a rarity in small-size beer fests like this. A giant canopy provided enough shade for any attendee wanting to escape the hot sun, as well as the snacks’ table where attendees could purchase snacks, water, or food from the host restaurant. Also, how often does a small beer fest last four full hours? Most beer fests nowadays last only three hours, or four with a “VIP admission” that costs more than general admission. The Factory went in the right direction with this beer fest, as it serves multiple purposes, such as exposing people to new beer & breweries, and exposing people to The Factory, a gastropub in an otherwise family-friendly neighborhood. Stay tuned for this fest next year, and start thinking of beers to brew to enter into this competition!

4. Mission Valley Craft Beer & Gourmet Food Festival

An old expression goes “All good things must come to an end.” I would never hope this to occur to any successful event, but alas it shall sooner or later. The Mission Valley Craft Beer & Food Festival (MVCBF) returned to Handlery Hotel in San Diego for its fourth and final year. This mega fest provided more than just beer – this fest combined a beer fest with gourmet food from local chefs and restaurants. In addition to unlimited beer pours, all attendees could sample all the delicious food they could handle until the vendors ran out of food, and boy did the food fly out fast. Do not expect any corporate or chain businesses here – MVCBF only invited the best in local cuisine to the party. With so many vendors invited to the party, the venue’s area had to stretch to wrap around the building, and even then did they still lack ample seating for all the guests, although this does not indicate a flaw – only that this proves the immense popularity of this fest. It pains me that this super fest has to come to an end, but on the other hand, I cannot wait to see what future events they have in stock. Although this grand festival will not return, the organizers still hold smaller, intimate events, so check out their website for all of their upcoming events.

3. Hangar 24 AirFest & 5th Anniversary Celebration

Coincidentally coinciding with the end of American Craft Beer Week, Hangar 24 Brewery celebrated their 5th anniversary with an all-day AirFest taking place at Redlands Airport. Hangar 24 fans could enter for $5 if purchased online, or $8 at the gate. Located just across the street from the tasting room, this all-ages gathering covered almost the entire airport area, sans the runway, with tents and trucks pouring beers. Strewn throughout the area, in addition to the various tents and trucks pouring beer, the airport crew set out vintage planes that guests could inspect and gaze at, and opened some of the hangars so guests could tour the airport. Guests could climb into some of the planes for photo opportunities as well. All day long, taps poured beers, food trucks sold their food, local bands played live music, and pilots put on aerial acrobatics shows, providing more than enough entertainment for the crowd. A kids’ play zone kept the little ones busy while the adults could go and drink elsewhere. Free parking meant that guests could leave and return at their leisure, provided that they leave their wristbands on. With so much ground to cover, so much beer to drink, and so much else going on, no guest should have ever felt bored the entire day. A combination of all small details contributed to the greater success of this event. First off, guests could park for free, and could reenter the venue. This alone can sway hesitant minds towards purchasing a ticket to attend. With such a large area to cover, guests did not have to wait in long lines to receive beer tickets or beer pours. As I entered the fest, the immediate ticket booth had a long line, but as I explored further into the area, I discovered more ticket booths with no line at all. Unlike the standard beer fest with tribute bands as the only form of entertainment, AirFest brought varied forms of entertainment, especially with the air shows and local bands playing their own original music. Most importantly of all, the people made this fest a grand event. From the amicable attendees to the sociable staff, the general aura of goodwill in the air placed everyone in a good mood that bounced from person to person.

2. San Diego Brewers Guild Festival

As San Diego Beer Week entered its fifth year running, breweries have never looked stronger than ever before. The San Diego Brewers Guild quickly approaches a hundred member breweries, and they strive to show their collective strength to the public with their San Diego Brewers Guild Festival. Now in its 11th year (thus starting before San Diego Beer Week existed), this annual beer festival now coincides with San Diego Beer Week with a massive celebration at the Port Pavilion on Broadway Pier in San Diego. This year’s festival from this past Saturday afternoon featured over 50 of the county’s guild breweries all spread out along the pier, each serving at least two of their beer offerings. With over a hundred different beers to taste, and only so much time available, attendees would have to power through all their beers in order to maximize the variety of beers tasted. People do not simply call San Diego the west coast capital of beer for no reason. San Diego County alone has almost a hundred official breweries – more if you count brewpubs and homebrew clubs. Consider that the state of Washington has just over 190 breweries, and you have a county packed full of craft beer enough to fill half a state. The San Diego Brewers Guild Festival rightly holds its place as one of the nation’s top beer festivals for its sheer amount of content packed into a small space within a 24-hour span, which included a VIP reception from Friday night. As a kickoff event for the rest of the beer festivities, attendees will have a better sense of direction for finding more events and specials throughout the week all over San Diego County.

1. Orange County Brew Ha Ha

Orange County’s biggest craft beer festival returned for its fourth year running this year at the 4th Annual Orange County Brew Ha Ha Craft Beer Festival. Taking place at sunny Oak Canyon Park out in the hills of Silverado and Irvine, this lush park away from civilization marks a great getaway from the cluster of the city, especially since cell phone signals do not normally reach out here. Trumping last year’s festival in geographical size and content, this massive beer festival puts all others to shame by including a whopping 70+ breweries in attendance from all over the world, doubling its area from last year, and adding more food, games, exhibits, vendors, and live entertainment, including Reel Big Fish! Benefiting the Local 3631 Firefighters Union, general admission started at 1pm and included ten beer pours, while Early admission started at 12pm and included 15 beer pours. All beers stopped pouring at 4pm, but trust me – they allocated more than enough beer per person, since many of the breweries brought strong or filling brews, resulting in majority of attendees leaving the fest at the end of the day with extra beer pours remaining. At this rate of expansion, I foresee a 5th Annual Orange County Brew Ha Ha as so large that any normal person cannot possibly complete a circuit in given time. If this case arises, they must consider running two sessions, just like how Stone Brewing does for their anniversary. If they cannot run two sessions on the same day, then they can add another beer fest of the same magnitude. Luckily, they already have – the 2nd Annual Orange County Brew Ho Ho returned to the Phoenix Club in Anaheim on Saturday, December 7th. No other beer fest in Orange County can compete on the same level as the Brew Ha Ha – see why for yourself next year!

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Ska Luau IV
7:00 pm – 1:00 am, December 30
House of Blues, Anaheim
http://www.houseofblues.com/tickets/eventdetail.php?eventid=84120

Time to skank! TONIGHT, get all ska’d out with Starpool, Suburban Legends, Save The Swim Team, CodeName: Rocky, and the Magnolia Polynesian Dance Troupe. Tickets cost $12.50 presale and $15 at the door.

Various New Year’s Eve Dinners/Parties
Nighttime, December 31

Anywhere you go on New Year’s Eve, you will find a dinner or party of some sort. See below for a VERY brief list of what to expect. Please party responsibly and commute safely. Minimize your time on the road if possible.

Party @ Wild Goose Tavern, Costa Mesa
Dinner @ The Cellar, Fullerton
Party @ Downtown Long Beach
Dinner @ The Factory, Long Beach
Party @ Angel City Brewery, Los Angeles
Dinner @ Beachwood BBQ, Seal Beach
Party @ Stone Brewing World Bistro, Escondido
Dinner @ Hopscotch Tavern, Fullerton
Party @ The Factory, Long Beach

The Aggrolites @ Alex’s Bar
8:00 pm – 2:00 am, December 31
Alex’s Bar, Long Beach
http://www.alexsbar.com/event/154507

Ring in the new year with The Aggrolites at Alex’s Bar in Long Beach. Admission costs $20 presale and $25 at the door. No one under 21 may enter. Guests should park in the neighborhood across the street from Alex’s Bar or on Orizaba Avenue.

Punk Rock New Year’s Eve
9:00 pm – 2:00 am, December 31
Cafe NELA, Los Angeles
http://www.facebook.com/events/563526740390302/

Spend New Year’s Eve with local punk rock bands at this low-cost gig in Los Angeles featuring The Gear, Decry, and more. Entry to this show costs only $10. No one under 21 may enter.

Dirty Little Secrets Rock Burlesque – First Wednesdays @ The Copper Door
8:00 pm – 12:00 am, January 1
The Copper Door, Downtown Santa Ana
http://www.facebook.com/events/433621610071892/

Get your fill of burlesque every first Wednesday of the month at The Copper Door in Downtown Santa Ana, for free! Guests can park on the street for free after 8pm. No one under 21 may enter.

Reel Big Fish with The Pietasters, Suburban Legends*, Mighty Mongo and The Maxies @ House of Blues Anaheim
6:00 pm – 12:00 am, January 2, House of Blues, West Hollywood http://www.houseofblues.com/tickets/eventdetail.php?eventid=84834
7:00 pm – 12:00 am, January 3, House of Blues, Anaheim http://www.houseofblues.com/tickets/eventdetail.php?eventid=84826
5:00 pm – 11:00 pm, January 4, House of Blues, San Diego http://www.houseofblues.com/tickets/eventdetail.php?eventid=84825

Get your skanking on this week as Reel Big Fish starts their US tour at the House of Blues. Ticket prices vary by the venue, so click on each link for more information.
* = Suburban Legends will not play at the Anaheim show.

Poison Idea, Dissesion, Out Of Tune – Southern California Tour
8:00 pm – 2:00 am, January 2, Characters Sports Bar, Pomona http://holdmyticket.com/event/158322
8:00 pm – 2:00 am, January 3, Brick By Brick, San Diego http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/522673
7:00 pm – 1:00 am, January 4, The Observatory’s Constellation Room, Santa Ana http://www.observatoryoc.com/events/poison-idea
8:00 pm – 2:00 am, January 5, Loaded, Hollywood http://www.facebook.com/events/609665915760314/

Poison Idea will briefly tour through Southern California this weekend. Each show has its own ticket price and age restrictions, so click on each link for more information, then go rock out with Poison Idea!

First Fridays
5:00 pm – 10:00 pm, January 3
Various locations
Long Beach: http://firstfridayslongbeach.com/
Venice: http://www.abbotkinney1stfridays.com/

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).

OC Psycho Punk Show
6:00 pm – 12:00 am, January 3
Mirror Image Studios, Anaheim
http://www.facebook.com/events/224935657678082/

Support the local punk rock scene at this low-cost all-ages show this Friday night in Anaheim. Entry costs only $5, with no reentry allowed. The venue will have food & drinks for sale in the back.

2014 Miss California USA Pageant
6:00 pm – 9:00 pm, January 3
10:30 am – 7:30 pm, January 4
Terrace Theater, Long Beach Convention Center, Downtown Long Beach
http://www.misscausapageant.com/

On Friday night, catch the Miss California USA & Miss California Teen USA Preliminary Competition. On Saturday at 10:30 am, see the Final Show Dress Rehearsal. At 4 pm, catch the Final Coronation Show. Ticket prices range from $60 to $80 for the competitions, while tickets to the dress rehearsal cost about $30.

Punk Rock Show @ The Airliner
7:00 pm – 1:30 am, January 3
The Airliner, Los Angeles
http://www.facebook.com/events/719121948105527/

Check out lots of local punk rock bands at this show in Los Angeles this Friday night, including big names like Los Creepers and All Out Attak. The venue does not allow reentry, but they sell food & drinks there. Entry to this show costs only $3. No one under 18 may enter. Guests should park in the neighborhood across the street from the venue.

The Secret Affair – 60’s Night
9:00 pm – 1:00 am, January 3
Alex’s Bar, Long Beach
http://www.alexsbar.com/event/157258

Occurring on every month’s first Friday, this 60’s night at Alex’s Bar will play all vinyl music of motown, northern soul, boogaloo, 60’s pop, and more. Feel free to dress up too, as the bar staff will hold costume contests and dance contests.

At The Hop! Free Burlesque Show
9:30 pm – 1:30 am, January 3
Big’s Grill, Fullerton
http://www.facebook.com/events/246339095526208/

Come to this FREE burlesque tribute to 50’s Sock Hop this Friday night. No one under 21 may attend.

Free Punk Show + Music Video Shoot @ Blacklight District Lounge
7:00 pm – 12:00 am, January 4
Blacklight District Lounge, Long Beach
http://www.facebook.com/events/614180781957754/

Check out a free punk rock show, and get a chance to get into a music video that one of the bands will shoot at this show. No one under 21 may attend.

Yeastie Boys @ Loaded Hollywood
8:00 pm – 1:00 am, January 4
Loaded, Hollywood
http://www.facebook.com/events/228503813990499/

Rock out with Hollywood punk rock bands this Saturday night, as the Yeastie Boys headline this show with a handful of local bands. Entry to this show costs $5 with the flyer found on the linked site, or $7 at the door. No one under 21 may enter.

Old habits sure die hard, but old traditions will never fade away. Many trends gain their initial 15 minutes of fame, and while many of those eventually falter, some persist and last for decades, whether people want it to or not. Much like how food trends constantly change, the music industry changes often too. New genres crop up every year, while a few songs may go viral throughout the year. While music fans tend to try to keep up with the changing times, fans of specific genres will stick with that genre and search for more bands similar to their favorites. Attending an entire show or concert headlined by a particular band can expose early attendees to similar bands from the local area. By showing up within an hour of when the show doors open, attendees can discover other great local bands of the same genre as the headliner. Check out some of this year’s memorable Southern Californian bands that have opened for bigger names in punk rock.

5. Bombay Snakes

Bombay Snakes has yet to expand to a headlining act at a sizable venue, but do not let their fan base size fool you, as their fans show heart and commitment. For a band usually opening a show, they play a solid set with very little downtime and a strong sound similar to Civet. Should they play another show locally, I encourage you to attend their show to appreciate and support local music.

4. The Interrupters

If you appreciate female-fronted ska bands, you will love The Interrupters. The Interrupters play a much more mellow ska/punk music similar to Save Ferris or The Barrymores. They emphasize having fun and enjoying the night rather than getting rowdy in the pit. Vocalist Aimee Allen also manages her own solo singing career, so check out her work when you get a chance. If you miss Save Ferris, you owe it to yourself to check out The Interrupters very soon.

3. Not A Chance

The music of Not A Chance carries the fast element of Falling Sickness, but they sound more like older Against All Authority. Their energy never fades, and they string together all their songs as best as they can, minimizing down time. They play a handful of original songs, and they also cover Bloodhound Gang and Ol’ Dirty Bastard at one point in their sets. I can see Not A Chance going far – they just need their big break.

2. Rottbite

I would go so far as to call Rottbite the most underrated punk band of Southern California. Unlike your typical hardcore street punk band that only screams and plays loud music ad nauseum, Rottbite actually has some variety in their music. This local street punk band from Orange County does not just hit everything at once – they follow a method to the urban madness in their music. When you hear Rottbite’s music, you would expect to hear something like this on the radio by now. With talent this great, I expect to see a lot of Rottbite in the near future.

1. Slow Children

Slow Children has come a long way to carve out their musical style and build a unique brand of their own. They have broken out of the rookie’s vibe and now plays like professionals. Their developed sound now resembles a younger version of A Wilhelm Scream, not just because their bassist wore the shirt, but because Slow Children actually sounds like old A Wilhelm Scream. At this rate of progress, Slow Children will go far in the music industry.

2013 came and went, and with it came dozens of new food trends that surfaced around the world. This year, people around the world saw a resurgence of traditional foods resurrected in another form, in one way or another. For example, the cronut fad (croissant doughnut) got everyone talking about this hybrid of a pastry, and soon social media networks like Instagram exploded with tons of posts featuring said pastry. This year, we also saw the revival of ramen, both traditionally and modernized. Ramen places like Shin-Sen-Gumi sees lines of people for hours, while any place daring enough to craft the infamous ramen burger will see lines for days. Some past food trends have managed to persist up until now, such as breakfast any time of the day, juice cleanses, food trucks, locally sourced ingredients, “housemade” foods, and especially kale. In any case, just like time itself, tastes and flavors constantly progress, leading to the progress of menus at many different restaurants. People go out to eat all the time, but sometimes certain foods really stick in their heads. Observe below five eats from Southern California that really stuck in my head this year.

5. The Griddle Café‘s Red Velvet PanCAKE

People truly cannot get enough of their breakfast foods. The world does not tote breakfast as the most important meal of the day for no reason. Breakfast provides the necessary jump-start of nutritional fuel humans need to tackle the day. The nutrients in a person’s breakfast dictate how that person may feel the rest of the day. Eat a protein & vitamin-packed breakfast, and go on with the energy of a race car. Sometimes, one just wants to indulge for breakfast. In that case, look no further than The Griddle Café in Hollywood. This iconic breakfast spot always has lines out their doors for hours, and not merely for breakfast. The Griddle Café looks at traditional breakfast items, and takes them to a brand new level. For example, their Red Velvet PanCAKE combines horizontal progression with vertical progression. Not only do you get the charm, visual appearance, and flavor of red velvet in a pancake, but it comes out thick like a cake. Just for the thrill of it, they top it off with swirls of cream cheese icing and powdered sugar. Not surprisingly, diners may not orders this for take-out. How could anyone attempt to carry this thing out? Freshness should mean something to anyone dining out, and Griddle Café does not skimp out on freshness. For the best breakfast in town, give yourself some time to wait for The Griddle Café.

4. Lazy Ox Canteen‘s Pig Ear Chicharrones

When reading a menu, the product description does more than paint a picture of the item. In some basic cases, the name of the item sufficiently states the nature of the item. For all other times, consumers require an accurate product description to understand the item. In rare cases, the name could potentially turn off some customers. In a classical “do not judge a book by its cover” moment, we take a look at a particular dish from Lazy Ox Canteen in Downtown Los Angeles. Not to knock on Lazy Ox – as one of my favorite restaurants in Downtown Los Angeles, they bring some of the most amazing dishes to the table that I have ever seen. One time, I brought my sister here, and the moment we saw Pig Ear Chicharrones on the menu, I immediately ordered it, while she turned away. No one should feel disgusted by seeing the word “ear” in the name, as the dish tastes like pork, not ears. These fried goodies come with tomatillo salsa and harissa sauce. For as thin as they appear, these chicharrones pack quite a bit of meat in every bite. Better yet, anyone can score these chicharrones for 50% off during Happy Hour. Do not let the name fool you – pork still tastes like pork, but the way Lazy Ox prepares it, your taste buds will thank you for this delicacy.

3. Scott’s Restaurant‘s Calamari

Ever come across something so butchered across America that people immediately draw a picture in their minds when they hear the word? For example, when people hear “burgers,” they usually picture the small dinky burgers from fast food chains, not the gourmet burgers from some restaurants. When people hear “pizza,” they picture large pepperoni pizzas, not the individual-size Neapolitan pizza found at Italian eateries. When people hear “calamari,” they picture small onion rings. We must teach ourselves to shed these preconceived notions and open up our minds to new visions while dropping our expectations. Now in 2013, we should expect to drop all of our expectations, and observe food the way it should taste, not how it appears. When you find yourself in Scott’s Restaurant, expect to receive a fantastic meal unlike what typical restaurants may serve you. The level of quality behind Scott’s exceeds that of conventional “steak & seafood” restaurants with their use of ingredients direct from local farms. As such, their prices match the effort they go to serve you such tasty meals. For a tasting that will not break your bank, check out their appetizer menu, which lists a handful of seafood appetizers like their Calamari. Whereas regular restaurants serve calamari plainly fried, Scott’s gives you a plate of calamari lightly fried, but dressed with lemon, garlic, shallots, and a spicy provencal sauce. This creates a combination of tastes that require no additional dipping sauces, as all the flavor you need comes right there on that plate. Feel free to have a seat on the bar/lounge side to order this and a drink, as you receive the same service there, but at a quicker response rate.

2. Spring Street Smoke House‘s Burnt Ends

Certain regional dishes often get imitated, but never successfully duplicated. For example, the Philly Cheesesteak does not gets its name simply from its origin – only the real thing comes from Philadelphia, and nowhere else in the world can anyone obtain an authentic cheesesteak other than Philadelphia. Many other types of food receive some attention from places far from its origin, but sadly cannot compete with the original. Many people believe they understand true southern-style BBQ, which, in the United States, originated on the east coast. Sadly, tons of “southern BBQ” restaurants exist in California that come nowhere close to the real thing found in the originating regions like Memphis, Carolina, or even the midwest. Once in a while, a true gem shines out of the pack, such as Spring Street Smoke House in Downtown Los Angeles. As one of the few BBQ restaurants in Southern California doing BBQ right, Spring Street Smoke House takes what we love about southern-style BBQ and applies it to a Southern California setting, complete with a fine selection of local craft beers on tap. Among the menu of smoked meats like pulled pork and brisket, Spring Street Smoke House features specials like their Burnt Ends plate. Diners may choose a 1/2 pound or full pound of these crispy trimmings from the ends of their smoked brisket, and these come smothered in BBQ sauce along with a pickle and a choice of two sides. In one dish alone, anyone ordering this will experience crispy, meaty, tangy, smokey, salty, crunchy, and lots of other words that can describe the perfect BBQ plate. Head on in to Spring Street Smoke House soon and order this baby up, along with a nice cold pint of your favorite local craft beer.

1. Crazee Burger‘s Muddy Pig

Places with the craziest ideas often receive labels from the public. Depending on how unconventional things appear to the public, the public may embrace it or question it. As long as a strange concept gets marketed properly, the public generally will keep an open mind to it. When Slater’s 50/50 first described their concept of a burger made of half bacon and half beef, the public initially started skeptical, but soon came to embrace it. Other fads like cronuts and ramen burgers relied on the internet to virally market those concepts. The right marketing can quickly turn the tide for any business, regardless of how much effort the marketing receives. If the locals love it, the locals equate to free marketing, and locals love Crazee Burger. This small burger shack in North Park, San Diego has garnered quite a following of fans that has stretched across the nation with their penchant for exotic, unconventional burgers. They embrace their given name of Crazee with the odd quirks found only here, such as a Happy Hour that runs from 2:23 to 6:19, instead of the traditional “on the hour” start and end times. Even more crazy lies in their menu of over 20 burgers, which features odd combinations and exotic meats. So far, the craziest burger I have tried, the Muddy Pig, comes with Nutella, bacon, and caramelized plantains. Breakfast burgers definitely exist, but none have come close to this sweet deal of a meal. Unfortunately, Crazee Burger currently does not list the Muddy Pig on their menu anymore, so if you seek this burger, I suggest calling them to see if they can still create it. Even if they no longer make this burger, the rest of their menu contains plenty of other great choices, so pop on in soon, especially during Happy Hour, and order up a burger and beer, and experience Crazee for yourself.

The Vandals performing My Girlfriend’s Dead at House of Blues in Anaheim, CA. Filmed on December 21, 2012.

No matter the time of the year, punk rock never stops, regardless of any holidays. The Vandals prove that fact every year with their annual Christmas Formal, now in its 18th year running. Taking place last Friday night at House of Blues at Downtown Disney in Anaheim, this year’s show followed in the footsteps of last year’s show that featured The Gears and Indian School as the openers, as this year’s show hosted GOGO13 and Knock Out as the openers. As one of the few bands, if not the only band, that dedicate a show entirely to Christmas, punk rock fans always look forward to this show every year to bring holiday cheer and delights to everyone present, whether they like The Vandals or not. After all, some fans honestly attend certain shows for a band other than the headliner, so kudos to them for still showing support for the rest of the community. At least for The Vandals, everyone present at this show went nuts for their beloved Christmas punk rock music.

I had arrived after Knock Out finished their set, so I unfortunately could not witness any of their music. I did manage to snake my way in to the front of the pit in time for GOGO13, a local ska band that I had missed out on multiple times earlier this year. As anticipated, a skanking pit initiated not too long after GOGO13 started their set, which slowly evolved into a standard circle pit, punk rock style. The kids in the pit apparently forgot about the skanking part, and just slammed into any visible person. This kept up for the remainder of GOGO13’s set, which included plenty of original songs and the occasional cover song.

Christmas cheer caught on with a lot of the audience members like a contagion, with little to no angst detected within the venue. That all went to the gutter the moment the lights turned off, as all audience members present immediately rushed to the front of the stage to throw their bodies at The Vandals. Sporting red tops with their band roles printed across the front, the audience could not wait for the first song to drop, as the pit enraged from the get-go, despite The Vandals playing their Christmas album songs out of order. No one seemed to mind – they just raged and shuffled as long as they could hear music running. The Vandals finished playing Christmas songs quite early in their set, and resorted to taking requests from audience members, which included It’s A Fact and Anarchy Burger. The Vandals made their bluffing exit quite early in the night as well, as they had not played some of their anticipated songs like My Girlfriend’s Dead or especially Oi To The World. Nobody fell for their exit, and remained put for the eventual encore, which lasted a lot longer than normal encores. I suppose that The Vandals do not follow conventional means when it comes to putting on shows, so encore rules do not apply to them. The alleged encore started with guitarist Warren Fitzgerald’s soliloquy, which he always performs at every show at the end of the show. Once the rest of the band regrouped, they finished off their set, finally playing their hits My Girlfriend’s Dead and Oi To The World.

We never know when The Vandals will play next! Make sure you Like their page on Facebook and follow them on Twitter for all the latest updates direct from the band. You may even discover a contest that may allow you to win tickets to an upcoming show, so pay attention daily!

Youth Brigade, The Warlords, All Or Nothing H.C., and Low Life Sound System @ Characters Sports Bar
7:00 pm – 2:00 am, December 23
Characters Sports Bar, Pomona
http://www.gonzopresents.com/event/156409

Kick off a holiday week with Youth Brigade TONIGHT at Characters Sports Bar in Pomona. Admission to this show costs $15 at the door. No one under 21 may enter. Guests can find plenty of free street parking around the venue.

Tovarish Stout Bottle Release + Russian Cuisine Night
5:00 pm – 10:00 pm, December 27
Beachwood Brewing, Downtown Long Beach
http://www.facebook.com/events/651500588225995/

Taste this exquisite Russian Imperial Stout this Friday night at Beachwood Brewing in Downtown Long Beach. In addition, check out their selection of finely crafted Russian dishes, made just for this special occasion. Guests can park for free for up to three hours in the parking structure behind Beachwood Brewing with validation.

Bottle Share #10
1:00 pm – 5:00 pm, December 28
38 Degrees Ale House, Alhambra
http://www.facebook.com/events/542720732486507/

Brew your own beer? Got an interesting craft beer to share? Bring it to 38 Degrees’ monthly bottle share event, taking place this Saturday afternoon, and discover other great beers too. Free to attend, guests should bring approximately 40-50 ounce’s worth of beer. The restaurant has its own free parking lot.

Agent Orange @ Whisky a Go Go
6:00 pm – 12:00 am, December 28
Whisky a Go Go, Hollywood
http://www.whiskyagogo.com/site/event/agent-orange/

Agent Orange headlines this holiday show at the Whisky a Go Go this Saturday night along with a slew of local bands. Tickets to this all-ages show cost $15.

Free Punk Show @ Morgan’s Tavern in Riverside
9:00 pm – 1:00 am, December 28
Morgan’s Tavern, Riverside
http://www.facebook.com/events/180936842114040/

Catch a FREE punk show this Saturday night with local bands Holokaust, Mob Attack, Civil Disgust, Cocaine Nosejob, and Grave Misfortunes. No one under 21 may enter.

30th Annual Vintage Clothing & Textile Show
9:00 am – 3:00 pm, December 29
The Pickwick Gardens, Burbank
http://www.caskeylees.com/Vintage/Vintage.html

This expo features over 65 vendors selling their antique textiles, vintage clothes, accessories, and more for attendees to exhibit and purchase. Admission costs $7 per person and comes with free parking.

Beagles & Brews Holiday Party
2:00 pm – 9:00 pm, December 29
Angel City Brewery, Los Angeles
http://www.facebook.com/events/330336167104263/

The Beagle Freedom Project will sell merchandise to raise funds for this beagle rescue charity. In addition, a portion of food and beer sales will go towards the organization. Visitors can also meet some rescues at Angel City on this afternoon.

The New Years Eve Eve Music Festival
3:00 pm – 10:00 pm, December 29
Gaslamp Restaurant & Bar, Long Beach
http://www.facebook.com/events/1475156892709680/

Reggae, ska, and punk rock all meet at this all-day all-ages music festival in Long Beach. Tickets to this show cost $10 presale and $15 at the door. Guests can park for free before 4pm, while parking costs $5 afterwards.

The Vandals performing Oi To The World at House of Blues in Anaheim, CA. Filmed on December 21, 2012.

The 67th Annual Naples Island Holiday Boat Parade returns to the canals of Naples Island in Long Beach this Saturday evening. Completely free to attend for all ages, this annual holiday boat parade attracts thousands to this small community to not only witness the spectacular Christmas lights aboard all the boats, but to stroll along the canals of Naples Island to gaze upon all of the holiday decorations of the citizens of Naples Island. Immediate streets along the parade route begin closing to vehicular traffic at 5pm. Guests commuting from out of town should strive to park off of Naples Island, as parking will get tight into the evening. Some viable parking spots include the farmer’s market parking lot on E Marina Dr off 2nd St, or anywhere in the Belmont Shore area. Remember to dress warmly, as this area gets very cold at night!

Large boats start at 6pm and sail entirely south of 2nd Street, moving counter-clockwise and starting right before the bend of Lido Lane. Click here for a map of the large boat parade route. Small boats start at 6:45pm and begin at Marine Stadium before following a route similar to the large boat, but also passing through the inner canals of Naples Island. Click here for a map of the small boat parade route. By overlapping the two maps, we see a few spots to stand where spectators can catch both parades without moving: along the outer edge of the island reached by crossing Neapolitan Lane, along Lido Lane, and at the Long Beach Yacht Club, where both parade routes end. Keep in mind that these spots will see the most amount of spectators, so arrive early to get a good spot. Alternatively, head to E Ocean Blvd across the way, accessed by heading towards Belmont Shore, turning left onto Bay Shore Avenue, then continuing past Horny Corner. This spot yields a great view of the large boats, but anyone wanting to take pictures of the small boats from this location will require a camera with superb zoom capabilities.

After the parades have concluded, remember to take a stroll through the inner canals of Naples Islands to check out all the holiday decorations. This area infamously exhibits some of the most glamorous decorations in all of Southern California, and also includes strolling carolers and occasional children selling hot chocolate. Bring out your friends and family, and enjoy a night together with some fun holiday sightseeing this Saturday evening.

As the year winds down to a close, many punk rock shows start to crop up. As a common theme in punk rock time, better late than never. In some cases, going late makes for a more enjoyable experience, such as when The Adolescents and 7 Seconds headlined a show this past Saturday night at The Observatory in Santa Ana, Orange County. Although it appeared to not coincide with anything, this show ended up operating as a Christmas-themed show anyways, complete with an appearance from Santa Claus. Themes aside, punk rock fans clamored to this show to not only see the legendary Adolescents, but to catch a rare Southern California appearance by 7 Seconds.

The Vermin opened up the night with a set that lasted about 25 minutes. This old school band that started in the 80’s still can rock out like the best, as they caused a pit to initiate the moment they started playing, despite coming from out of town. Opening bands rarely can generate so much energy in a pit, so The Vermin definitely left their mark on all those who arrived at the venue way earlier than the headliners.

As oxymoronic as it sounds, Cerritos punk rock band Channel 3 (stylized CH3) started their set not too long after The Vermin ended their set. Punk rock does not exactly come out of Cerritos, so for a well-known punk band like CH3 to call Cerritos their hometown truly means something. In any case, CH3 walks the line between opener and headliner. They possess a large enough following that they can headline their own show, yet to go on second reminds us of how a normally headlining act like D.I. can go on second and still manage just fine. The crowd still went wild for CH3, especially when they started playing I’ve Got A Gun and a pit started on the side behind me. Oh, and Santa Claus decided to make a cameo towards the end of the set to throw shirts out to the crowd. Bonus: click here for a Christmas song by CH3.

The tension in the room expanded vastly as the anticipation for 7 Seconds reached peak levels. When a band requires an introduction from the show promoter, you automatically know to expect a fun time. I wondered why 7 Seconds did not officially headline the show, but with such great bands on the night’s lineup, the order did not mean as much, as all attendees could devote all of their remaining energy for the bands. With no real surprises or tricks up their sleeves, 7 Seconds delivered an exciting show to all the eager fans in attendance. They wasted little time transitioning between songs, opting to play songs into the start of the next song. Some of their more recognizable songs came towards the end, including Walk Together Rock Together, so those who remained in the concert hall the entire time could rock out with everyone else.

Playing to a crowd that had expended much of their energy on the previous band, The Adolescents held nothing back when they exploded onto the stage in the dark to screaming fans. While this sounds like a scene from a boy band concert, the men of The Adolescents beg to differ, as the crowd diving had started before the band even played a note. They started their set with No Way, which usually serves to drive the crowd into a frenzy, if they had not already gone into one. From there, the set consisted of plenty more popular songs, such as LA Girl, Creatures, Amoeba, and Kids Of The Black Hole. Many of the fans shouted for I Hate Children, but they will never play this song live for a handful of reasons. First off, no point exists to play that song at an all-ages show. Plus, they all have children of their own, compared to when they first made this song decades ago. No other surprises occurred during this set, save for the few people that could not handle the pit and had to climb out or get carried out.

With the holidays approaching and the year about to end, many punk rock shows have cropped up in Southern California. Check with your favorite local bands to see where they will perform next. Also stay tuned to this site every Monday for the week’s upcoming events.