As the second-largest event in the city, the Long Beach Lesbian and Gay Pride Festival and Parade is expected to attract about 80,000 people to the downtown area when it returns this weekend.
They come to celebrate and party, and there will be plenty of chances to do that with a music lineup that's bringing dozens of acts to the two-day festival along Shoreline Drive.
This year's main stage is headlined by former Destiny's Child member Kelly Rowland, who will perform 9 p.m. Saturday. On Sunday night, the festival closes with New York hip-hop artist Cazwell at 8 and electro-pop singer and rapper Devin Star Tailes, better known as Dev, at 9 on the main stage.
“I've never performed at Long Beach Pride before but I can't wait. I just want to do a good show, I want to be captivating,” said Cazwell, an openly gay dance-oriented rapper whose lyrics often focus on gay and bisexual issues.
“I try to make sure that all my songs are really compatible with the dance floor,” he said.
Cazwell has a new album coming out this summer titled “Hard 2B Fresh,” so he plans to perform his new music at the event along with his older songs like “I Seen Beyoncé at Burger King,” which Cazwell joked he would dedicate to Rowland.
While Cazwell first began performing in the late '90s, when a gay white rapper was pretty much unheard of, now it's more about the music than anything else, he said.
“I don't think anyone needs me to tell them anymore that it's OK to be gay and being gay involved in hip-hop. I know so many other gay rappers now,” he said.
Following Cazwell's performance is Dev, 24, who is known for her bass-heavy electro beats. She's also just completed a new EP called “Bittersweet July,” set to be released in July.
“I'm excited to see how people will react to the new songs,” she said. The new mother said her latest six-song EP is a more emotional album than her previous work.
“It's fun and exciting music with a good balance between songs that are bigger and more melodic and more sad and down-tempo music,” she said.
This will be Dev's first performance at the Long Beach Pride Festival, which has taken place in the city since 1984 and is second in attendance only to the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, an event that attracted 175,000 spectators in April.
Besides the main stage, the festival also will have a Latin stage headlined by Mexican synthpop group and Latin Grammy winner Belanova, a dance stage and an urban soul stage featuring several DJs. There also will be a country stage with headliner Chely Wright, who came out as gay in 2010, making her country music's first openly gay singer. Wright is set to perform Saturday night while country singer Mike Schikora will perform both Saturday and Sunday.
“I'm looking forward to this more than you know,” Schikora said during a phone interview from Texas, where he was building stalls for his horses. “I've got three albums to my name and I'm working on a fourth so I'm doing a lot of material from all of those albums.”
The largest concert crowd of the weekend likely will be at Rowland's concert at 9 Saturday night. She is capping off a day of main stage music that starts at noon and includes 13 other acts, such as saxophonist Pamela Williams and the New York-based JLine Dance Crew, which fuses hip-hop, Latin, jazz and funk moves with a focus on anti-bullying and messages of tolerance.
Also on the main stage Saturday is San Fernando Valley-based Lunden Reign, a band led by guitarist, keyboardist and songwriter Lora G. Espinoza and singer-songwriter Nikki Lunden.
The pair describe their music as “big-beat alternative rock” — meaning alternative rock riffs mixed with dance beats.
“We're very high energy, we like to keep a high-energy show,” Espinoza said.
The band just released a new EP called “Mary,” which it will draw from during the show. The band also will call a few famous friends onstage such as Prescott Niles, bassist for the Knack, and Dale Bozzio, lead singer of new-wave veterans Missing Persons.
“She'll join us on the last two songs and we'll play one of her songs,” Espinoza said.
Espinoza is looking forward to having fun onstage but she also has her mind on the bigger meaning of the Long Beach Pride Festival and others like it.
“I believe in celebrating and honoring what has happened in the past,” she said. “I think festivals like Long Beach and others continue to keep that flame of remembrance alive for all those who struggled before us. I want to be a part of honoring that memory and keeping it moving forward.”