This weekend will no doubt be overshadowed by the towering goliath known as Village Fest. Our annual bacchanal where, for one night only, the city’s denizens are allowed to indulge themselves silly — but within reason — in all manner of food and drink for four hours.
On this one day in September, the majority of Bakersfield is separated into three major groups: those who are going, those who aren’t, and those who pretend not to care but are secretly trying to score tickets.
All kidding aside, it really is an incredible event. And, in my opinion, the biggest event of the year that’s only getting bigger, even now in its 24th year. It’s a well-organized, well-planned, well-executed machine with logistics akin to running a small city. The fact that it’s a charitable function also allows the attendees to feel like they’ve done a civic duty while getting to sample every IPA ever made.
But what options are there for the under-21 crowd this weekend? Well, not many. But there is one gig of note that might require a bit of a drive, but it’ll be worth it to see what some of Bakersfield’s next generation of musicians have to offer.
Local singer/songwriter, and current UC Santa Barbara student, Ryan Barge will perform with his band at the Shafter Ford Theater this Saturday. He’ll be doing so in support of his debut album, “The Last Long Lonely Night,” a concept album of sorts.
Barge said, “I like to story-tell ... so it follows the story that I had in mind of this person that goes to this bar and kinda has the worst night of their life. But at the same time, comes out in the end and it was (all) actually a ‘going through hell to get to heaven’ sorta thing.”
The 19-year-old Barge isn’t even old enough to be in a bar yet but has quite mature musical instincts. He’s an impressive talent and definitely one with a vision. Not only did he write every song on the album, he also performed every instrument as well. With songs ranging from acoustic guitar-based pop songs (“Just What the Doctor Ordered”), to high-energy uptempo rockers (“You Never”), piano ballads (“Tonight”) to even reggaeton (“Señorita”) it’s an even more compelling statement from such a young talent.
Barge has also released two singles, “M.” and “Blindsided,” as companions to the album. But it’s one of his earlier singles that deserves attention: the 2017 piano ballad “The Things You Do.” The duet is sung with bandmate Lorea Laverty, who was his fellow classmate at Centennial High School.
“We were in the same choir together,” Barge said. “We were on a tour going down to San Diego or San Francisco — one or the other — and we were like, ‘Dang. We should write a song together!’ And so, we wrote the song on the tour bus. It was crazy. it was really cool.”
The video for it shows the two of them forlornly wandering the streets of downtown Bakersfield, eventually singing to each other from the rooftops where they, quite literally, create fireworks from the energy of their love. Both the video and song, with its saxophone solo, are really quite sweet and the video’s honest earnestness sells you into rooting for the two.
The singles and album can be streamed and purchased online and physical copies of “The Last Long Lonely Night” will be available at his shows.
“I'm really excited to put on a show,” Barge said, “and I would be thrilled if people would come.”
Also on the bill will be Sweatpants, a fun trio who’s making sure the dream of 1990s pop-punk is alive in Bakersfield. Yeah.
Ryan Barge with Sweatpants, 7-10 p.m. Saturday, Shafter Ford Theater, 1101 East Lerdo Highway. $10. urldefense.proofpoint.com.
Alien Ant Farm with The 08 Orchestra, Stoneshiver, Love and War and Art and the Resistance, 4-11 p.m. Sunday, 1933 Event Center, 7900 Downing Ave. $18 in advance, $22 day of show; tickets available at 1933, Front Porch Music (1711 19th St.), Going Underground Records (1312 19th St.), or livemusiccity.com.; all ages
Cults & Classics: “Grease” with special guest Barry Pearl (AKA “Doody”) 6:30 p.m. Monday, Fox Theater, 2001 H St. $5; ticketfly.com
Alien Ant Farm is best known for its 2001 cover of Michael Jackson’s “Smooth Criminal,” which struck the perfect balance between playful and reverent. It played so well, you didn’t know if they were having fun with it or having fun because of it. Maybe both? But one-hit wonders they were not meant to be thanks to their other hit single that year, “Movies” off of their album “ANThology.”
That particular album, the band's second, is not an actual anthology or even a greatest hits, nor is the debut album, titled “Greatest Hits.” Those wacky guys!
The band also rocks some serious chops — especially drummer Mike Cosgrove — under their purposefully quasi-nerdy image and have some strong material (their 2003 single “These Days” is a gem). Seriously, if you mixed Faith No More with the cast of “The Big Bang Theory,” you’d get Alien Ant Farm.
The show at the 1933 Event Center this Sunday is cool for the main reason that, for all their success, they’re just four Cali-dudes from Riverside. They’re wrapping up their Gen-X Summer Tour with fellow early-aught rockers Buckcherry, P.O.D. and Lit the day before their gig here, so they’ll be at their peak of their powers. Excelsior!
Speaking of movies, the Fox Theater will host a showing of “Grease” as part of its “Cults & Classics” series this Monday. What makes this particular showing special, however, is their special guest: actor Barry Pearl, who played the T-Bird “Doody.” He’ll be hosting a Q&A session with the audience at 6:30 before the movie and a meet-and-greet after, so maybe a brave soul can ask him what the heck was up with the flying car?
Attendees are encouraged to dress up in costume, so go as your favorite character. Bust out your vintage car! Maybe channel your inner Sandy? Dress up as Doody and take a picture with him! Heck, combine two different movies or genres and go all out! Make leather-clad Sandy a Sith or Danny a Vulcan. Or, maybe just go enjoy one of the best musicals ever to be put on screen on the screen. Take your kids. They’ll dig it.
Post-Village Fest picks
Bar Room Riot and Modern Wives, 9 p.m. Saturday at Sandrini’s Public House, 1918 Eye St. $5.
Crooked Eye Tommy, 8 p.m. to midnight, Saturday at O’Henning’s Bar, 1312 Airport Drive. Free.
Rockamole, 9 p.m. Saturday at Bellvedere Cocktail Lounge, 3090 Brundage Lane. Free.
Once Village Fest is over Saturday night, patrons looking to continue on with the night’s revelry are bound to ask themselves the eventual question, “Where next?”
The usual haunts will be open, of course, and downtown will be ground zero for the party to follow. Over at Sandrini’s Public House, The Bar Room Riot and Modern Wives will host the first unofficial “Super Awesome Special Cool Rock Fest.” Both bands are high-quality representations of each of their influences: The former sounds like some kind of 1960s desert mescaline and beer party hosted by Pink Floyd, Queens of the Stone Age, The Doors and Genesis; the latter blast pure nuggets of power pop with an early-aughts indie-rock sensibility. Sandrini’s will also serve pub food until 11:30 p.m. for those who enjoyed more drinks than bites at Village Fest.
Over at O’Henning’s, the fantastic Ventura-based blues band Crooked Eye Tommy will perform its top-shelf, award-winning style of blues. The band is captivating, powerful and highly recommended. Unfortunately, show time starts and ends a bit earlier than other places — 8 p.m. to midnight — so if you’re a blues fan attending Village Fest, beeline it north of the River and catch these guys. They’re fantastic. Just make sure to use a ride-sharing service if you’ve been indulging.
Rockamole (rhymes with “guacamole”) will be at the eternally consistent and resilient Bellvedere Cocktail Lounge performing its “gonna have a party” blast of Latin rock, funk, soul, cumbia and old dschool. The band’s charismatic frontman, Joey Zaza, is a true local legend and one of the unsung soldiers in our local music scene. These guys get down and they have fun. Good thing it’s contagious.