Week-Long Festival in Downtown Los Angeles Features Beers And Rock ‘n Roll Bands
People do get out of “The Bubble.”
Including the band at Pancho’s.
Before Wolfgang Puck walked on the red carpet, before Gene Simmons walked on the red carpet – and took the stage – there was a group of musicians who went through completely unnoticed by the press photographers.
Except this one.
I saw Big Jim Wheeler, the awesome sax player from my up-the-street bar, Pancho’s in Manhattan Beach. Then the lead singer. Then the drummer. Then Al, the manager of Rock ‘n Brews in El Segundo with his bass.
Suddenly, it was not some high-end red carpet VIP party at LA Live for Hollywood’s elite, but Pancho’s on a Saturday night. Except being inside the small cantina it was outside under the stars. (And I couldn’t walk home, either!)
And then, one right after another, I saw friends from Hermosa, Manhattan and Redondo Beach proving that, contrary to popular local legend, people DO get out of the South Bay bubble on occasion.
And this occasion was the kickoff event for an event called Rocktoberfest. It’s a week-long Oktoberfest party in downtown L.A. It features the awesome Pancho’s band – made up of a Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame of musicians such as the drummer from Alice Cooper and the singer who toured with Slash, just to drop a couple of musical names – jamming and a couple of special appearances by Simmons.
In fact, Thursday is KISS Army Night, so expect an early Halloween show of KISS fans in full costume. Simmons said there will be some more KISS presence on stage, other than himself.
Simmons is part owner of Rock & Brews in El Segundo, a beer bar and restaurant with rock ‘n roll videos playing on the TVs, and this event is put on by it in conjunction with concert promoter Dave Furano. It features brats and food from Puck and beers from Beck’s and several other high-end breweries. It has picnic tables that encourages mingling and cheers, just like the real deal in Munich.
To be sure, no one will mistake Rocktoberfest for Munich. Or even local Oktoberfest celebrations at Old World in Huntington Beach or Alpine Village in Torrance. For one, the size is simply nowhere any of those parties (especially the Munich beer halls; those things are the size of airplane hangers!).
The difference here is that it’s outdoor – and with this LA summertime weather in Roctober the conditions are perfect – and the rock ‘n roll cover music as opposed to an oompha band.
It also comes from a guy who originally made making beer his first business, then built it into a local empire. Mike Zislis started his restaurant and bar business with a place called the Manhattan Beach Brewing Co. It was in downtown Manhattan Beach (it’s now BrewCo) and had original beers such as Manhattan Beach Blonde and Rat Beach Red.
I was among his first customers, and also one of his most frequent.
The place was wildly popular on weekends and Mike was in there working with his brothers and sexy sisters, talking passionately about the brewing process. They took frequent trips to Prague to learn more about brewing beer. Or so they claimed; I always figured they just wanted to go to Prague a lot.
But anyway, Zislis knows and appreciates his beer. And that’s why Rocktoberfest will build into a major event in the coming years.
Proceeds from Monday night’s kickoff charity went to the Wounded Warriors Project.
Rocktoberfest goes from 5 -11 p.m. Sunday’s beer festival is 3:30-6:30. Tickets are $20 and beers are $10.
Here’s the link to Rocktoberfest.