By Valerie Milano
Irvine, CA (Hollywood Today) 1/2/12
The OC Fairgrounds knows how to throw a party, be it the middle of the summer for the county fair or the last night of the year! The Block Party advertisements boasted Music.Food.Fun yet it was so much more! The OC Fair New Year’s Eve Block Party is a mini one night winter tribute band version of Coachella without the heat and overnight camp sites. The festivities started at 7:30pm till 1:30 a.m. The big halls were transformed into concert halls with four stages covering the four decades of music from the 60′s to the 90′s for the 12 tribute bands. The 1960s stage featured Neil Diamond hits with the Hot August Night band, then crossing the pond for the Brit beats of Abbey Road band/ Jumping Jack Flash -The Beatles vs The Rolling Stones). True Stone fans would have appreciated the presence of Brian Jones in the band’s lineup which had a backup singer who looked like Janis Joplin! The 1970s Stage was the Hangar stage with the back of the hall open to the Main Mall with the view of the neon lights, the food trucks, plus the free bumper car games, Super slides, and Super Shot. On the 1970s stage the evening featured Journey Unauthorized, then transitioned to Led Zeppelin tribute band Heartbreaker and finished the night with Queen Nation with a very convincing looking Freddie Mercury lead singer. On the 1980s Stage was the Van Halen tribute band Atomic Punks, Dead Man’s Party was the Oingo Boingo tribute band, and the evening closer was Strangelove as the Depeche Mode tribute band. On the 1990s stage was Green Today for the Green Day tribute, The Joshua Tree for the U2 tribute with the local OC band members and their spot on Bono front man as well as the blonde bombshell energy of Nu Duh for the No Doubt/Gwen Stefani tribute.
Most of the attendees dressed warm in long pants, jackets, long coat and scarves as well as donning blinking Happy New Year tiaras and glitter hats which were on sale in the merchandise booths. There were matching silver jacket couples, some unique lit tuxedo jackets with hats as well as some brave warm blooded scantilly dressed femme fatales. Security was visible yet not overpowering. The crowd seemed well behaved and having a good time with the variety of stages to visit, food trucks to check out as well as the Party Zone djs playing the best dance music of the millennium. The fair has its own year round Baja Blues bar adjacent to the outdoor arena for motocross events. For NYE there was an 8:30pm Demolition Derby which doesn’t last that long due to the nature of the sport. The arena was transformed with mounds of dirt for terrain for the automotive challenge. Also inside the Baja Blues bar was the opportunity to be the star of your very own music video and receive a free DVD of one’s performance by Dance Heads with their green screen background.
This year’s setup was more contained with the focus on the Main Mall for the 2013 Countdown Celebration. A previous OC Fair NYE featured Blondie as the headliner on an open stage with VIP booths in the parking lot. This year there was no laser show but there were fireworks at midnight while Queen Nation did the celebrated countdown. Each stage was well run with sound engineering and lighting. Every band was spot on with their performances. For many older guests, it was a way back machine of melodies and anthems from concerts of their youth. Though it was mainly an adult crowd there were some families and teenagers yet the majority of the crowd was early 20s and up with a mix of many ageless groups. Some local performers like female folksinger rocker Kerry Getz as well as Jason from the Galway Hooker band had the night off from performing to be on the other side of the stage. One of the benefits of the OC Fairgrounds is its ability to be a city center for the county making a big place to feel like a small town for the night. Hollywood Today reporters met people who had already celebrated the Irish New Year at 4pm at the Auld Dubliner Irish Pub in Long Beach with its live big screen coverage of the Imelda May performance and fireworks from Dublin. Some of the local pubs like the Old Shippe had their British New Year countdown as well. A lot of people were glad to have 2012 in the rear view mirror and they were looking forward to a fresh slate and a new beginning. Music is a great way to celebrate with old and new friends. Happy 2013. Maybe the next NYE festival could change gears and feature some more original local musicians who deserve the big stage spotlight like bluesman K.K. Martin and Kerry Chester, Flashback Heart Attack, Tijuana Dogs, The Creepers or international music halls with Irish bands like Trooper Thorn, the Mulligans, the Twilight Lords or Rain for their Beatles tribute.