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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Queens of the Stone Age 12/15/07

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San Diego’s Alternative radio station FM 94.9 used to put on an annual concert called the Holiday Hootenanny. There were a bunch of bands that played including hometown boys Louis XIV and Pinback (both excellent) but I was really there to see Queens of the Stone Age who was headlining the event and touring behind their stellar album Era Vulgaris that had just come out in June. I had only seen them once before when they opened for Nine Inch Nails and I was pretty excited to see them again. I don’t know which band members were different from the first time around but this incarnation seemed to be tighter and the overall vibe was way more energy. That could have been mostly due to the setlist but who knows? They melted the face off Donna and I that night.

Ahh camera phones in 2007…

Nine Inch Nails 9/16/05

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There I was standing on the floor of the packed arena at San Diego State University watching Queens of the Stone Age for the first time. They were touring for the album Lullabies to Paralyze that had come out in March. I had come alone, which by this point was nothing new, because I couldn’t recruit any of my friends to come to the show with me. Shortly after the band started to play “Feel Good Hit of the Summer” I was lucky enough to meet two generous stoners who didn’t mind sharing their joint with me. I say lucky because this was a rare occasion where I didn’t just sneak in my own. Not that I “had” to have one, but it always enhanced my experience. The beauty of this concert was not only that I got to see Queens of the Stone Age for the first time, but the fact that they were opening for Nine Inch Nails. This was to be the second time I had the pleasure of seeing them. Towards the end of the interim between bands camera flashes started going off in anticipation of Trent Reznor and the rest of his band hitting the stage. This is when it finally hit me. I had always wanted to write a book but had never quite figured out what I wanted to write about. When I was younger I never really took that many pictures but the camera flashes got me thinking about how other people document their life through the pictures they take. It is said that a photograph is worth a thousand words. With that in mind someone can look at one of their photographs and tell you exactly where they were, who they were with, and all the circumstances surrounding that moment in time. When I started thinking about this it dawned on me that I document my life in the same manner through my concert ticket stubs because I’ve kept one from each concert I have ever been to. I can look at the stub and tell you the exact date, who attended the concert with me, where I worked at the time, who I was dating, etc. That is what spawned this blog (originally intended as a book).

This concert was special because it was a “2 for the price of 1.” Let me explain. By this point the internet had taken over the ticket world and more specifically the legal ticket scalping world. Basically even if you logged on to Ticketmaster, etc. right when the tickets first went on sale you would still end up getting really crappy seats that were expensive because the legal scalpers had figured out a way to suck up all the good tickets that were not already given out to radio stations, etc. I say this because I had pretty much all but given up on buying tickets the traditional way and instead tried to buy tickets off of people looking to get rid of them at the last minute. This was one of those times but I ended up buying it for way less than face value (I want to say $20) from a legal scalper. He said that they just bought too many and now were trying to unload them for something.

Nine Inch Nails was touring for With Teeth that had come out in May and this was the first night of the tour. They came out behind what looked like a giant mesh screen that images were projected onto and they proceeded to take us on a thorough musical journey. Jeordie White (better known as Twiggy from Marilyn Manson) was in this incarnation of the Nine Inch Nails touring band. So they played what seemed like a full set but all of a sudden they stopped playing and disappeared for quite awhile. Nobody knew what the hell was going on until Trent came out and apologized to the crowd saying they had an unexpected emergency and would be coming back to make it up at a later date. It turns out what happened is they had to cut their set short because the drummer Jerome Dillon had a heart-related health issue that caused him to be rushed to the hospital. They ended up coming back on November 20th to play the “make up date” which was just fine with me.