De Lux performs at the Pike. Photos by Brian Addison.

Summer and Music, Long Beach’s veteran music festival, has not just cemented its place as the go-to music series in Long Beach as each year amps up the quality of its lineup, it is proving to be the series of events that is putting Long Beach on the map as a multi-leveled venue.

Three weeks after Dancin’ in the Streets kicked off the series by taking over the Promenade with the Allah-Lahs, Twisted at the Pike took the normally-desolate Pike area and did the improbable; made it fun and accessible, while procuring a set of headlining acts worthy of the El Rey and placing them in front of a sunsetting beach locale that LA could only dream of.

Twisted01Local (and wildly underrated) band Wild Pack of Canaries [pictured right], who recently found a home on Porch Party Records, opened the evening with their horn-driven, experimental prog-rock sound that proved Long Beach is as musically talented as it is outright strange. The winners of 2011’s Buskerfest (which is coming up this year on September 6), the Canaries’ energetic, schizophrenic style and sound, and all over the place stage presence (literally: don’t be shocked to find members, as they were during this performance, running around the stage, jumping off it, running around in circles…) make it hard not to move your feet.

The musical highlight of the evening despite not having the headlining spot is unquestionably De Lux, the LA dance-punk band who have proved to music lovers that the void left by LCD Soundsystem’s breakup will not be left entirely empty.

The KCRW darlings—Jason Bentley not only has them on repeat but even uses their music for Morning Becomes Eclectic’s advertising—opened with “Sometimes Your Friends Are Not Your Friends” from their Innovative Leisure label debut Voyage (a brilliant nod to the New York disco greats). The infectious beats—like LCD, they harken to but don’t outright steal the sounds of 80s disco—create a sound that made even people on the sidewalk stop, peeking over the barrier and ask, “Who is this?”


Full moon and full crowd for De Lux.

Long Beach staple Free Moral Agents, the musical collective headed by Mars Volta keyboardist Isaiah “Ikey” Owens, brought its familiar sound to the festival, while warming the crowd up for the synthetically awesome dirt that is Fartbarf.

Twisted07If one didn’t know Fartbarf [pictured left], it would be easy to assume—much like the company I brought—that they are some juvenile punk crap that throws their shit together on stage in an awesome-or-awful display. But Fartbarf is kind of like Daft Punk’s puke: the “Give us knobs or give us death!” trio of neanderthal-mask-sportin’ astronauts blends beats that are impossible not to dance to with grimey, distorted vocals in a sort of unapologetic mixture of Chromeo and The Faint. Whether you want to dance (which the majority of the crowd did) or mosh (which succeeded in, getting full-blown unruly by the last few songs of the set), Fartbarf brings together both the Disco set and the headbangers in sweaty, grooving camaraderie. 

The electro-simians are no stranger to Long Beach after they hosted their Dirty Power album launch party at Alex’s Bar earlier this year with now-Long Beach-based white-trash-techno duo Restavrant and Long Beach metal-dance-pop fave Bella Novela.

Summer and Music’s next event will be the Bicycle Drive-In, to be held Saturday, August 2.