The much-hyped event known as East End Block Party returns once again this Saturday, echoing the same large-scale music, art and culture festival vibe of last year's event and colliding with the monthly downtown Santa Ana art walk. Whereas last year's Party was hosted by Obey Radio and LA/Pomona-based music promotional company Moon Block Party, this year's festival looks to be bigger and better, spanning as wide as French to Bush streets and featuring multiple stages of music happening simultaneously throughout the day brought by local collective Konsept, OC Music League and DIY music arm Top Acid.
The cultural output of this, and every other festival that happens in the downtown area is reflective of the artistic and musical community that exists within it, but has been downplayed in recent months due to an overhaul of restaurants and bars. In over a year's time since the last Block Party, the East End area has undergone plenty of changes- 4th Street Market, a new LGBT center above the Frida Cinema, Wursthaus and more openings and closings-- yet the arts and music scenes in the area have strained a bit to thrive at the same level.
But the East End Block Party is a resurgence of both worlds that have paved the streets with the vibrancy and spirit true to Santa Ana. "The majority of people coming this weekend are from the Los Angeles and Inland Empire areas, and it'll be nice to show them a more genuine side of Santa Ana, not just the overpriced restaurants and craft beer bars," says Chris Gonzalez, owner and operator of DIY music venue Top Acid.
The day-long block party hosts a welcoming street fair for both locals and outsiders to enjoy. Tyson Pruong and his Konsept group have made art and music events happen in OC for years, and will host a slew of live artists and DJs at their own stage that include beat producers from Soulection, OC-based GRN+GLD, and Locally Grown Collective. Pruong believes that the fest is a unifying event that exposes new artists to a wider audience. "[The East End Block Party] brings us all together, simply look at the organizers and bands involved. We're all local and have an opportunity to be showcased on a bigger stage," Pruong says.
Orange County Music League, who have demonstrated their willingness to bring local music in defense from the pay-to-play model of business-making, will have their own stage at the new 4th Street Market with guests Bristol to Memory, Twentytwofourteen, The Sly Digs, Rat Soup, and more.
DIY venue Top Acid, which closed its doors in March, has been dormant for a while except for becoming an online-only web store and blog, returns full force with enough music and vendors to be its own festival altogether: with three stages of buzz bands like Rudy De Anda, Audacity, White Night, Wax Children, Santoros, Wax Children, Gap Dream and more, and vendors that include Burger Records, Wiener Records and a pop-up zine library hosted by OC Zine Fest.
Beyond music, there's the Beat Swap Meet, where hip-hop heads and DJs can find rare funk, hip-hop, oldies and soul vinyl from independent record sellers; a car show of over 80 cars that claims to celebrate Santa Ana's Low Rider culture, and DXC or Dunkxchange, a buy/sell/trade event of sneakers and streetwear.
Local artists Federico Medina (of the Kim Pham memorial utility box) and Sean Robertson have a pop-up exhibition of photography and video projections called "DTSA" wherein the two artists have photographed hidden, forgotten streets of the downtown Santa Ana area with video projections of humorous or positive messages superimposed over every scene.
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The fully immersive, day-long festival kicks off the summer and breathes new life into the area at a time when even more changes are set to take place (Santa Ana streetcar anyone?). But for now, festivals like these that encourage the arts and appeal to youths are few and far between. It's best to enjoy them at the moment and embrace any and all semblances of culture that exist between the margins, and seek them out on our own. At this rate of growth, EEBP could very well be a county-wide highlight for the summer.
Check out the full schedule of this free event here with full details and information; see you there!