Roughly two years have passed since the East Bay Express untethered itself from Village Voice Media, and since then, we've found plenty of ways to assert our independence. Namely, we've reformatted the paper, beefed up the arts coverage, and moved to a swanky new office in Jack London Square, right next to the Oakland Metro Operahouse. Best of all, we've really stepped up our party game. Alt-weekly parties used to be a forum where grizzled old columnists clinked glasses and danced the humpty-hump. But all of that changed in the last couple of years. In fact, Best of the East Bay 2008 marked a 180-degree shift in the alt-weekly party template. More of a street fair than a party, it featured hot local bands like Hottub, Flipper, and the Kev Choice Ensemble, plus Savage Dance Company, skateboards, a kids zone, live graffiti, a huge artisan bazaar that spanned the length of Oakland Museum's courtyard, cheap eats from local restaurateurs, and some amazing DJs. And you couldn't beat the people-watching. No one in Oakland can resist a free party, so we saw people from all walks of life: moms pushing strollers, uptown fashionistas, little kids, college students, graffiti artists, gallery dwellers, 'hood nerds, strivers, slackers, and everyone in between. Perhaps there's some correlation between going independent and learning how to fete your readership. Whatever the case, we got bragging rights.
And now a year has passed, and you may be wondering, Are those staffers at the Express ever gonna stop touting their independence? Well, frankly, no. In fact, we've ramped up the saturnalia. This year's Best of Party will highlight all the different subcultures in the East Bay, from punks to backpackers to motorcycle enthusiasts to tattoo lovers to fans of extreme sports. This year's expanded event will include the Gearhead Garage (a parking structure decked out with classic cars, performance bike expos, courtesy of Godspeed and East Bay Rats), a tattoo showcase, and a pinup art exhibit. An electronica stage will feature Dresden & Johnston, Dyloot, Mephisto Odyssey, and special guests. The Illuminated Corridor will provide live art, music, and films. A Kids Zone sponsored by Chabot Space & Science Center will feature magic shows, crafts, and live music from Bandworks. Add to that a pro-wrestling ring, international dance stage, a DAI Style Lounge, green room, and outdoor village with vendors, food, and nonprofit resources. And all of that pales in comparison to the main-stage lineup, which features Maldroid, CU Next Weekend, Mystic Rage, Dizzy Balloon, the Heavenly States, Swann Danger, Fracas, Superfinos VTO, 7th St. Band, Social Unrest, Souls of Mischief, and Goapele, the Bay Area's high priestess of R&B. On Friday, Aug. 7, at the Oakland Museum of California (1000 Oak St.). 5 p.m.-midnight, free. EastBayExpress.wordpress.com
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