One $10 parking space, two Bud Lights, five cigarettes and 11 sightings of American Apparel running shorts (in assorted colors) later, I'm still kind of surprised I had a good time at Long Beach's first-ever Neighborhood Festival—that is, except for when the Art Garfunkel look-alike in skinny jeans shoved his Lomo cam inches away from my face and snapped a picture "for the sake of art." And then later when he tried to dance with me during Moving Units. Asshole. The only reason I'd wanted to go to the Neighborhood Fest was because Cold War Kids were on the original bill—turns out they'd canceled a month prior; festival organizers chose not to admit this until a day or two before the actual event. Which blew: the Kids' show a few weeks back at the Galaxy was fantastic despite the shoddy sound, and recently some of the Internet's most popular music blogs have given the Fullerton band some well-deserved attention . . . which I'm sure has something to do with both their upcoming New York City and LA dates selling out. The festival nonetheless transformed the grassy grounds at the Queen Mary Events Park into a sort of Californian Strawberry Fields, with scattered pods of the fashionably young and elite bathing in the sunshine. While both the crowd response and performances early on were lackluster, things finally got interesting when a shirtless-and-butt-crack-showing Mickey Avalon—think Peaches, but male—took the stage with his white-boy dance rap. Armed with a bottle of Patrn, a scary-skinny dancer and autobiographical songs addressing everything from homosexual prostitution to his preference for, uh, scary-skinny girls, Avalon's provocative pseudo-minstrel act was a welcome wake-up call from our sun-soaked daze. Other events of the night included some Suicide Girls dancing Steve Aoki DJ sets—eye roll—and dance-punkers Ima Robot playing an obscenely short set with none of my favorites from their self-titled album—eye roll, again. But Moving Units, predictably, got the crowd moving with songs from their early EP, especially during the jagged riffs of "Between Us and Them" and "X and Y." Overall, Sunset Junction it wasn't, but the festival has lots of time to grow and was a great start to what is hopefully going to be a yearly tradition.
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