CalJam 10/7/17

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CalJam was billed as a “daylong marathon of eating, drinking and rocking” modeled in the vain of the famed CalJam festivals at Ontario Motor Speedway back in 1974 and 1978. Who better to bring some semblance of this nostalgia back than Dave Grohl? “In addition to 12 hours of rock and roll good times, CalJam offers camping, carnival rides, a water park, attractions, a mobile recording studio & so much more. On Friday night, October 6, campers will also experience the world’s best Go-Go band Big Tony & Trouble Funk, an outdoor movie theater and many other surprises.” Besides the great lineup I loved that this was unabashedly a rock and roll festival. No DJ’s, no bullshit, just pure rock and roll.

I convinced Luke to go after I convinced Tom to go and our camping passes arrived in a super cool paper CalJam RV with a silk CalJam flag. Unfortunately only after we bought a camping pass did we learn that for some reason unbeknownst to us in order to camp you had to arrive on Friday night by 11:30…even though the show was all day Saturday??? Once we arrived we quickly understood why the organizers made campers show up the night before. There were just too many people that would have needed to be handled at the same time as all the people that did not camp. It was extremely well organized and we were not the least bit upset with the extra safety precautions that were taken. Having been to a couple similar “camping” situations I have to say it was refreshing to have grass on our little piece of the pie. It was also a very nice touch to have Christmas lights strewn over the entire campground to light up our night and give a little ambiance. After setting up shop, having some beer and watching a small part of “Yellow Submarine” at the outdoor movie screen we called it a night because we had a long 100 degree day in front of us. I especially liked the setup Tom had which consisted of an air mattress that blew up to fit perfectly in the bed of his truck.

Much to my detriment it did not take long the next morning to re-ignite the flame from the night before. A paltry breakfast of turkey bacon and potato chips did little to equalize said flame. Our first order of business was to go down the water slides located within the campgrounds. We thought this would be a suitable equivalent to a shower and besides why wouldn’t you want to go down a water slide after drinking a little? It seems we were just a tad early so we were turned away and told to come back at 11. Fast forward a couple hours and we were granted entrance into the majestic water park where almost immediately upon arrival we overheard someone say that Dave Grohl was there and had just gone down the water slide. Someone spotted him and I took the opportunity to go fan boy and shake his hand as he was trying to escape. What a cool guy. He was walking around with no posse or bodyguards. Just a down to earth guy that everyone wants to have a beer with.

After wrapping my hand in plastic and vowing to never wash it again (I kid) and going down the water slide we went back to the campsite to chill for a bit since the first band on the bill that we cared about were The Struts who did not start until 2. It was back at the campsite that our neighboring camper decided to offer us the leftover mushrooms that she had. This amounted to several stems and a couple caps. I would say I was surprised but this sort of thing seems to find me on occasion. The idea was to split it up between three people. Hold that thought.

I knew nothing of The Struts except that the singer slightly resembled Freddie Mercury and they had quite a buzz surrounding them. They had a good energy about them but were not really my cup of tea. Since the entire affair was a rare General Admission event we were free to roam about anywhere in the crowd and watch them up close.

Next up and the first band I really, really wanted to see was Royal Blood. I had just seen them for the first time ever less than two months before this but they were awesome again. It was obviously not as intimate as the last time I saw them but their aura still translated well to the amphitheater setting. Still hard to believe all that sound is coming from just two dudes.

There was a short intermission before Babes in Toyland were to play so we seized this opportunity to continue double fisting beers on a 100 degree day after drinking since 8 am plus Friday night. *THIS IS NOT A GOOD IDEA.* It was about this time we lost Luke. He apparently decided to break from the group without any communication to go ride the ferris wheel. Cell phone service is terrible with that many people in a concentrated area so this was the last we would see of him. I only saw Babes one other time way back in 1995 when they opened for White Zombie. This time they were playing the second stage back in an area that I did not even know existed. It could have been the beer and heat combination but I felt like there were not that many people watching them. I was very close to the stage and entranced by these three ladies doing their thing. They simply rocked.

It was around this time that I lost Tom and apparently my phone as well. Hot. Mess. Express. Although I was now without both people I came with or a phone to aid me in finding them, I did still manage to have my cookie and the mushrooms on me. So I did what any (in)sane person would do and ate it all. I do remember some of Cage the Elephant’s performance and remember thinking how improved they were over the one other time I had seen them about six years before this when they opened for Foo Fighters. I also remember enjoying the one song I actually like of theirs “Mess Around.”

Somehow this was only the third time I had seen Queens of the Stone Age and the last time had been almost a decade before. They were here in support of their newest album Villains that was released a little over a month before this and were pretty badass as expected but I felt like I watched them from outer space due to the circumstances. Even though I could have gone to the floor I found more solace in the lawn section due to my state of affairs so I’m sure I looked like a lunatic being all by myself. I remember being there but still had a “come to” moment right as the Foo Fighters came on.

This time seeing Foo Fighters was much different than the last time I saw them when Dave was literally rocking a cast from a throne. Not only was Dave mobile but they had the new album Concrete and Gold that was less than a month old. I very much enjoyed one of my favorite tracks from the new album “Dirty Water” as well as a scorching version of one of my favorite Foo songs of all time “White Limo.” Besides the new songs they had a couple other surprises up their sleeve. The first was Rick Rolling everyone with Rick Astley himself as Foo Fighters played the most rocking version of “Never Gonna Give You Up” I have ever heard. The next was bringing out Joe Perry for a spot on cover of “Draw the Line” and a cover of “Come Together” with Liam Gallagher singing. These motherfuckers played from 9:45 to midnight and I loved every second of it. Dave hinted at the possibility of this becoming an annual affair. Sign me up!

SETLIST: Times Like These, All My Life, Learn to Fly, The Pretender, The Sky is a Neighborhood, La Dee Da, Walk, These Days, My Hero, Sunday Rain, White Limo, Arlandria, Rope, Dirty Water, This Is a Call, Misirlou/Cat Scratch Fever/Another One Bites the Dust/Smoke on the Water/Day O mash up during band introductions, Monkey Wrench, Run, Never Gonna Give You Up, Best of You, Draw the Line, Come Together, Everlong

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Local H/Toadies 9/23/17

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This was the fifth time I had the pleasure of seeing Local H and ironically the last time I saw them was at the same venue for the 20th Anniversary of As Good As Dead at the beginning of last summer. These guys tour relentlessly, as evidenced by the fact that they were technically still touring on 2015’s Hey, Killer. Apparently the newest drummer Ryan recently had a baby so he was sitting this tour out. I don’t know where Scott finds these guys but whomever he had behind the drum kit was the fourth drummer I have seen him play with and although I prefer having Ryan behind the kit, this guy killed it too. Even though this was not her usual scene I convinced my wife Ingrid to go with me and we were nearly front row for the whole energetic performance. I very much enjoyed “Hands on the Bible,” an absolutely blistering version of “Bound for the Floor,” and the one-two ending punch of “Fritz’s Corner” and “High-Fiving MF.”

SETLIST: John the Baptist Blues, The Misanthrope, City of Knives, Michelle (Again), Hands on the Bible, The One With ‘Kid’, Bound for the Floor, Gig Bag Road, “Cha” Said the Kitty, Cooler Heads, The Last Picture Show in Zion, Fritz’s Corner, High-Fiving MF

In another kawinkidink this was also my fifth time seeing Toadies and although it was not the last time I saw them, I did also see them at the Belly Up celebrating the 20th Anniversary of their breakthrough album Rubberneck back in March of 2014. This time they were touring for the excellent album The Lower Side of Uptown that had just been released a couple weeks before this. I did not keep track of all the songs they played (too busy rocking out) but do remember “Take Me Alive,” “Tyler,” “Happyface,” “My Sweetness,” “I Come From the Water,” “Summer of the Strange,” and the closer “I Burn.” Two badass bands that I love for the price of one? These two bands were a match made in the clouds, which is where I was the entire time.

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Kaaboo 9/17/17

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Kaaboo Day 3

We had a couple of hours to get our shit together this morning before we had to catch the bus and it was quite literally the struggle bus. Two days of constant drinking in the sun on your feet will do that to a person but here we were about to do it for the third day in a row. You only live once, right?

T-Pain took the stage immediately after we arrived. I am not a fan whatsoever but he is one of those guys that you cannot really avoid exposure to unless you are living under a rock. Ingrid loved it. I do have to give credit where credit is due though and say I respected his enthusiasm and control of the crowd. There is something to be said about someone performing that looks like they are actually enjoying what they are doing.

We did run into Larry and Christina but Larry understandably did not want any part of our madness since he had to get on a 4:30 am flight the next day.

The first band I wanted to see was Live, who I had only seen one other time WAY back in 1995 at the height of their popularity when the album Throwing Copper was fairly new. I have always been a big fan and they sounded great. It must be weird for a band to go from headlining festivals to playing during the day on a Sunday at one but they took it in stride and killed it. It was an interesting choice to throw covers of “I Walk The Line” by Johnny Cash and “Like A Stone” by Audioslave into an already shortened set but it sounded really good.

At this point we were able to meet back up with Keith, Sierra, Keith’s friend Chris and his girlfriend to watch Alanis Morrisette. There is exactly one song of hers that I really like (Joining You) which I knew she would not play but I respect her as a talent. It was shocking to see her as a bleach blonde and playing a shimmery Stratocaster for about 1/3 of the songs but she was good. I’m sure her hardcore fans left satisfied.

The grand finale of the night and festival as a whole was none other than Mr. Tom Petty. This was my third time seeing him but the last time was about seven years before this. What can I say? He and the Heartbreakers crushed it in a way that you can only crush it from doing it as long as they have been doing it. They sounded fucking fantastic. If they sound great through laptop speakers on a YouTube video that was taken with a shitty phone camera then you can imagine how good they sounded in person. I did not get to hear my favorite tunes “Breakdown” and “You Got Lucky” but they played for a solid two hours and “Refugee” was about as good as it gets.

Once the bus dropped us off we made our Lyft driver take us through the Arby’s drive through. Three days might have been a bit much but all in all Kaboo was a success despite spending over $100 each per day on alcohol. Until next year…

 

Kaaboo 9/16/17

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Kaaboo Day 2

To avoid sleeping in the car, booking an overly expensive hotel room or paying for a surge-pricing Uber we opted for a charter bus option that Kaaboo organizers set up for this year. The pickup/dropoff location was just down the road from our place, there were multiple time options and as a bonus we could drink on the way.

We awoke to a surprise text from our friend Dave who recently moved back to San Diego and informed us that not only was he going to go to Kaaboo with us today, but he was actually outside our place. Time to put some pants on. Our missing friends from the previous day Jane and Calvin planned on having people over at their pool for a little pre-party since they live just a short walk away from the Del Mar Fairgrounds. After we were unable to convince our bus driver that did not speak a lick of English to drop us off at their place we made the hike only to find Jane getting over a sickness and Calvin looking a little pale. They powered through and soon Larry, Christina, Bob and Bob’s brother-in-law showed up. By this time our friend Dave had downed a fifth of vodka and had stripped down to his underwear to get into the pool. He met his match in the form of Bob’s brother-in-law (who I had never met before) who was on the exact same level. On the walk over to the fairgrounds Bob’s brother-in-law decided to urinate on a sign at the busiest intersection of the entire area, which also happened to be approximately four feet from a woman who was throwing up. This was at about three in the afternoon so we were off to a great start.

Garbage was the first band of the day that I cared to see. It was at this stage we met up with Kyle and Sierra to enjoy a performance that was as fiery as Shirley Manson’s short red hair. It had been quite some time since I had seen them but they quickly reminded me of why I like them.

Jane’s Addiction was next up and they appeased my desire to hear “Mountain Song” and “Stop!” Always an enjoyable band to watch. Perry Farrell is a nut and each individual musician is borderline virtuoso.

The artist that I really wanted to see outside of my usual wheelhouse was Ice Cube. I love his fuck-you attitude and the guy is a legend. “It Was A Good Day” was the first rap song I can actually remember liking. “Fuck Da Police” and “Check Yo Self” were awesome. Ice Cube lived up my lofty expectations but unfortunately my good day ended without seeing him perform “It Was A Good Day” because I did not want to miss a note of Muse, who was set to start the moment Ice Cube’s time was over and it was a good 10 minute walk to get to the opposing stage.

Muse was incredible. The opening sequence of the new song “Dig Down” from the yet unreleased new album followed by “Pyscho” and “Hysteria” had me beside myself. The production of this show was not nearly what it was the first time I saw them but to be fair this was a festival setting versus their own show. Regardless they knocked my drunk socks clean off. I especially liked when they laced in Rage Against the Machine’s “Freedom” right before they played the ending of “Reapers” because I always thought the two songs shared a common thread. It was almost as if to say, “yeah we know it sounds like that song, but we’re trying to pay homage, not totally rip it off.” This also makes complete sense because Matt Bellamy shreds on guitar right up there with the likes of Tom Morello.

Thankfully the return bus we needed to board was directly behind the stage where Muse played. Once we got home our neighbor across the hall that we had only met once came out of nowhere at 1 am with a six pack of beer wanting to party. It was weird but I let her in and left her with our extremely dunzo friend Dave while I went to the bedroom to get an equally dunzo Ingrid. The neighbor quickly realized what kind of shitshow she walked in on and promptly excused herself. Good times.

Kaaboo 9/15/17

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Kaaboo Day 1

This was the third installment of the annual Kaaboo Festival and instead of only going one day like we did last year for our first Kaaboo experience, Ingrid and I got a ticket for all three days. Ingrid was not very excited about Friday’s lineup but the geniuses running the show gave three day ticket holders one bracelet (once again in an unnecessary box that surely jacked up the price) good for all three days which effectively made it impossible to sell any of your days as a one day pass.

Arseniooooooooooo Halllllllllllll! was pretty funny and a good way to start off a 3 day jaunt into debauchery. Much to my chagrin we left halfway through his set to go check out DJ Diesel a.k.a. Shaq. He seems like a cool guy but does not have “mad DJ skills.” He just kept pushing buttons and saying something to the effect of “hit the free throw son.”

After Shaq we were able to meet up with our friends Larry, Christina, Bob, his buddy Tim, Kyle, Sierra, Meredith and our long lost friend Mike who had just moved back from Arizona to catch Weezer, which was the first band I was looking forward to. They have become a sort of institution at Del Mar every summer but they seemed a bit off. They were awesome as always but Rivers seemed like he was a little depressed which translated to “phoning it in.”

The main draw today was Red Hot Chili Peppers. This is one of the only bands that have eluded me throughout the years. A rare occasion I got to cross a band that I wanted to see but had never seen off the list. After losing my wife to a competing stage I found they were nothing short of fantastic. True professionals in every sense. The “new” guitar player Josh Klinghoffer meshed with Flea swimmingly. Although I was not lucky enough to hear “Blood, Sugar, Sex, Magik,” I did get to witness an on point rendition of “Suck My Kiss.”

I forgot my “cookies” at work but met a nice lad that let me take a few pulls from his joint so there was no shortage of “enhancement” after drinking all day. Then in a strange turn of events he offered me some LSD. My initial reaction was no funking way, then I thought maybe I would get it from him to hold for a future date, then I decided to take it on the spot and then I realized after awhile it was bunk. No dice. He claimed he was on it but it did not do shit to me and I know what acid is supposed to feel like. In hindsight this was probably a good thing.

I never did see our friends Jane and Calvin although Ingrid ran into them. Without a real getaway plan we just slept it off in the car for a few hours and drove home.

Royal Blood 8/15/17

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A couple years ago a rare radio listen (I never listen to the radio) introduced me to “Out of the Black” which I immediately dug. This was the first “new” band I had been excited about for quite some time. That excitement grew once I found out all that sound was coming from just two dudes. What sent me even farther over the edge is when I found out Mike Kerr was essentially doing what Scott from Local H does but on a bass guitar (he is playing guitar and bass simultaneously on a bass and it sounds so fucking cool)!

I had no idea they were coming to town until the same coworker that recently hooked me up with Chevelle tickets clued me in. I also had no idea that they had released a new album on June 16th called How Did We Get So Dark? I had never seen Royal Blood and I had also never attended a concert at the Observatory North Park Theatre. After a couple failed attempts at buying tickets at the box office to save some coin this show was a done and done.

After Bob picked me up and we passed a wrap around line to park in a clusterfuck of a beehive garage across the street from the venue, we walked over to a newer eatery called Street Car Merchants to meet up with our fellow attendee JD. Once we were told it would be an hour wait for food we wisely walked across the street to Crazee Burger where I enjoyed a cajun burger with onion rings, a Dead Pan Pilsner and a “cookie” – wink wink. We had just enough time after this to live out our bum fantasy of brown bagging a tall boy Pacifico from the liquor store and walking down “memory lane” where Bob used to live.

The Observatory adjoins the West Coast Tavern and shares a bar/bathroom so I had severe déjà vu the second we walked in to use the restroom. Once Bob kept the tall boy train rolling by ordering a round of PBR we walked down to properly claim a spot to watch. We skipped the opening band Welles and by this time we were mere minutes away from show time so the place was packed. We managed to get a spot in the very back of the lowest section, which I’m sure made a lot of people happy since all three of us are over six feet tall.

Royal Blood’s stage show was the exact one that you see in their video for “Hook, Line & Sinker.” Two dudes and a backdrop consisting of a series of poles that light up in different configurations. They sounded exactly as good as they sounded on their albums and that is not a bad thing: straight ahead rock but with a unique setup. I’m sure the second round of PBR tall boys courtesy of JD did not hurt anything either. The only problem with the tall boys was that JD was ready for my round way before me and we had not yet heard “Loose Change,” “Figure It Out,” or “Out of the Black.” Of course right after I said, “let me wait until after I hear which song they will play next,” they ripped into “Figure It Out.” I thought I could sneak back to the bar immediately when they finished so started heading that way and what comes on? “Loose Change” – the song I wanted to hear the most! Then who do I see on the way to the bar? That’s right, my coworker with her fiancé that I had never met but felt like I had from all the chatter about him. I did manage to catch about a minute of the song and all was right with the world. My favorite moment came about here when Mike said, “Let me introduce you to the rest of the band,” then left the perfect amount of comedic timing beats followed by “Ben Thatcher on drums.” Then Ben came out from behind his drum kit and did this thing where he walked fairly far into the crowd on the hands of people holding him up…awesome. The show fittingly ended where my exposure to Royal Blood first started – with “Out of the Black.”

The next day I text my buddy Ross a picture from this show and he text me right back saying he was literally watching them on James Corden right at that moment and they were wearing the same clothes. My guess is that they filmed in L.A. and came down after the taping…or maybe they only own one set of clothes. Either way pretty random.

SETLIST: Where Are You Now?, Lights Out, Come on Over, I Only Lie When I Love You, Little Monster, Hook, Line & Sinker, Blood Hands, She’s Creeping, Hold in Your Heart, Figure It Out, Loose Change, Ten Tonne Skeleton, Out of the Black

Metallica 8/6/17

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So it seems I am on the see Metallica every 10 years train because the last time I saw them was at the KROQ Weenie Roast back in 2008 and the time before that was Lollapalooza 1996 at the Gorge. I caught wind of a presale after they announced a stop at Petco Park in support of their newest album Hardwired…To Self Destruct that was released on 11/18/16. I could have bought seats anywhere in the place with the presale but decided to buy reasonable seats to save a little coin since I had seen them up close at the Gorge. Bob text me months later asking if I would rather be on the floor. Of course I would but did not want to double the price. He apparently worked some magic and found floor tickets for the same price so I sold the two tickets I purchased to our friend Kyle.

At the last minute Larry and Meredith decided they wanted to go and found some tickets. After meeting at my place and blowing Meredith’s mind that you could get away with drinking in an Uber we met up with Larry’s cousin, Kyle and his friend at a place downtown adjacent to the ballpark called Rare Form for a couple beers. Everything was going swimmingly until we went to go in and learned that Larry and Meredith had paid $145 each for fake tickets and would not be coming in. Talk about a buzz kill. To make matters worse I had somehow dropped the doobie I had in my pocket on the ground when I was taking everything out of my pockets to prepare for the metal detector.

Once inside things quickly took a turn for the better as some random guy offered me a high powered cannabis “gummy” for reasons still unbeknownst to me. We had just enough time to grab a beer and wander onto the floor section before Metallica started (yes we skipped all opening bands including Avenged Sevenfold for which I harbor a particular disdain for). It felt like the show was sold out but we still had plenty of space around us to be comfortable and move about the floor. Their giant stage backed with equally impressive projection screens was the largest I think I have ever seen and this ranks as one of if not the loudest concerts I have ever been to. I quickly realized that there was a colossal difference between seeing them headline their own tour versus playing on a festival bill like I had the other two times. A spectacular pyrotechnics and laser display worked in unison with the projected images to accompany the music to epic effect. The band genuinely seemed to be enjoying the night and (as one would expect) was tight. In a nod to Cliff Burton, Robert nailed his “Anesthesia” bass solo as images of Cliff were projected onto the screens. The new stuff was good but the old stuff just flat out rocked. What a fitting grand finale of three concerts in four days…Wow. These guys at whatever age they are still crush it.

SETLIST: Hardwired, Atlas, Rise!, For Whom the Bell Tolls, Creeping Death, The Unforgiven, Now That We’re Dead, Moth Into Flame, Wherever I May Roam, Halo On Fire, Whiplash, Sad But True, One, Master of Puppets, Fade to Black, Seek & Destroy, Fight Fire With Fire, Nothing Else Matters, Enter Sandman