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The Happy Sundays music festival returned to Long Beach on Sunday, scattering performances across 11 venues in the Zaferia District (patrons hopped between shows via trolley or bus) and feeling every bit like a grassroots success.
“I think that it is amazing that Long Beach has its very own fest,” said Rebecca Coleman of Pageants. “I wish that we would do more things like this. And it’s close to home, love getting the community together. Love to see it.”
Added Hunter Allen of festival fave Chase Petra: “I’m born and raised in Long Beach. And I’ve got to say, I’m 25 years old and I’ve been playing since I was 15. This is probably one of the best shows we’ve ever played. We had so much fun and we’re really grateful to be invited.”
Pageants started off the festival at All Time Plants. The early-arriving crowd packed the store and were all smiles for the band’s poignant music. A few moments later, just outside All Time Plants, Smooth Jas could be seen plucking some notes on the guitar, getting ready to hit the stage.
For those who miss the House of Machines in downtown Los Angeles, Roland Sands Design was the place to be. The motorcycle, product and apparel company had two bands playing their floor space. Maybe this was the year the shop was testing the waters of Happy Sundays and next year there will be a full lineup of bands. The band Hair played their rock sounds while a barber in a side space was waiting for the next customer.
Over at the Bamboo Club, the three members of Lost Cat could be seen sharing a drink before pouncing on the crowd. There was another cat at the festival. Over at Supply & Demand, DJ LoveKat was spinning the tunes. A couple hours later back at the Bamboo Club, the venue’s parking lot was packed as Tropa Magica had many fans pressed up to the stage, others crowd-surfing, and some standing on the cement parking blocks to get a glimpse of the band above the heads of those in front of them.
Over at DiPiazza’s, Broken Baby and Jagged Baptist Club combined the physical and musical into one fine package. Amber Bollinger of Broken Baby did a full aerobic exercise routine during their set. The audience was not allowed to just sit back and relax. Getting your body in motion during the 30-minute set was expected by all, and Bollinger pushed her way into the audience to make sure all were participating. As for Jagged Baptist Club, frontman Blake Stokes is the man with a thousand facial expressions and witty sayings as he had the whole crowd chanting that DiPiazza’s was the venue where you can, “Eat. Drink. Rock.” At the same time, over at Tennessee Jack’s, Julia Kugel (of the Coathangers and Soft Palms, and the co-organizer of the festival) was playing under her solo moniker, Julia, Julia.
Alex’s Bar showed how fun rock ’n’ roll can be. Julez & the Rollerz’s band name itself has you cracking a smile and thinking back to the American Graffiti movie where nights are first spent at the parking lot of the local drive-in diner and then afterwards everyone cruises the streets. And well, there could be that dangerous street race where Harrison Ford’s character somehow survives with just a broken arm.
Supply & Demand met the needs of a fan base that stayed for all the bands. The band Moonily is one of those bands that is out and about Los Angeles on a consistent basis, supporting others — the like-minded of which also return the favor. One of them, Jonny Cifuentes (of Spare Parts for Broken Hearts), said: “I’m super stoked to see Moonily, because they’re just really close friends. They’re pretty much family at this point. Over the pandemic, I got a job working as a mover and I needed a crew of people and Mars (singer-guitarist Marissa Trujillo) was the first one to just be like, ‘I want to do it.’ So she worked with me for months. So yeah, they’re like family. I love them.” During their set, their synth player jumped off the stage for a handful of songs and went straight for the center of the floor to dance throughout the next tune.
When it came to Chase Petra, singer-guitarist Hunter Allen was seen doing some leg stretches to loosen up those leg muscles. Then as the DJ was spinning some tunes, the whole band was off to the side of the venue, dancing with arms around each other. For an introduction of one of their songs, Allen said, “This song is about depression. I’m so sorry.” The band was so powerful that the venue quickly turned on their good lights. When the band was in need of water, fans brought them water without the band even asking.
The festival was a success, but one question still remains: “Zaferia! Zaferia! How do you pronounce it?” one performer asked. Judging by the laughter in the crowd, many people in Long Beach could use an assist.
Photos and recap by Notes From Vivace