CalJam 10/7/17


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


Tool 6/24/17


It’s hard to believe that it had been nearly eight years since the last time I saw Tool and almost equally hard to believe that 10,000 Days from 11 years ago was still their newest release. Due to so many concerts this year I almost didn’t go but as the date got closer the lineup just became too good to pass up. Unofficially dubbed “ToolFest,” the lineup boasted Tool’s friends and past touring mates Melvins, Fantomas, Clutch and Primus with The Crystal Method filling in the gaps between bands. It was supposed to be Bob and me but Bob bailed and Joe decided to fly down from Portland to go with me.

The Glen Helen Amphitheater is kind of out in the middle of nowhere so the nearest hotels are about 12 miles away in San Bernardino proper and San Bernardino is sketchy. At 1 pm we arrived at the ghetto fabulous Motel 6 to see an unfilled swimming pool, cheap banner wrapped around the official sign and an armed guard. Even that was a first for me but almost any accommodations are good for a night when you’ve been drinking. Anyways it was 1 pm but check in was not until 3 pm. This caused an issue because doors to the show were at 2 pm, for once we wanted to see every band playing and we were hoping to get a little pregame in to save some money on the $13.50 we knew each beer would be at the venue. Once we walked into the office to talk to the front desk guy who was behind bulletproof glass about checking in early we saw that there were two different couples who appeared to be trying to do the same thing. While one couple was at the window we started chatting with the other couple that had come all the way up from halfway down Baja in Mexico. What happened next was one of the strangest moments I have ever had. The couple at the window informed us nobody was going to be allowed to check in until three and walked out of the office. The other couple from Mexico then asked us if we wanted their room for free. Joe and I thought they meant we could hang out in their room but apparently they decided to stay somewhere else for the night and could not get a refund for this night and were only in the office to get a receipt of some kind. This solved all of our woes and saved us some money that we could then blow on beer. It is still hard to wrap my head around that moment even while writing this. That couple knew us for 60 seconds and decided that we could be trusted not to trash the place and charge any damages to their credit card. No complaints here.

After drinking some of the beer obtained from the padlocked coolers at the gas station across the street and a short Uber ride we were ready to take on the crisp 100 degrees without a cloud in the sky and rock. The venue holds 60k people so once we got settled we found a spot at the front of the lawn section to watch King Buzzo in a bizarro robe and the rest of the Melvins. It was a little ironic that I had not seen Melvins since I saw them back in 2004 with Joe in Portland. “Queen” put a smile on my face and my neck on notice. They also played a dissonantly heavy version of the Beatles “I Want To Hold Your Hand” that was cool.

I had never seen Fantomas so I was interested to see if their stage presence was as crazy as some of their music. Unfortunately Mike Patton’s microphone was fucked up for most of the set, which put a damper on some of the frenetic energy I was hoping for.

Next up was Clutch and they were the kick in the nuts that the crowd needed to waken them from their heat and beer induced slumber. My last time seeing Clutch was also with Joe at Aftershock a couple years back. I won the bet with him that Clutch would not play super old stuff but I was still plenty happy with newer rockers like “Firebirds!” and “X-Ray Visions.”

I had not seen Primus since the 3D tour almost five years before. They opened with one of my personal favorites “Those Damned Blue Collared Tweekers” and then pretty much stuck to the hits. “My Name is Mud” was Bad.Ass. At this point the sun had finally started to do down to give us some reprieve and for the first time in the day the video monitors fired up. Prior to this there were no visual effects or so much as a band backdrop for any band. Judging by the many Tool t-shirts in the crowd I do not think that bothered one person here, as that stood to enhance Tool’s world-class laser light production that much more.

The only taste of newness we got from Tool was “Descending,” a tune they have been playing live for awhile that is more like a teaser/movie trailer of the actual song according to Adam Jones. Although I do miss the early days when Maynard was not hiding in the back amongst the shadows seeing Tool never gets old. They played “Opiate” which I have only seen them play a few times and “Sweat” which I am not sure if I have ever seen them play. This was also a rare night they played “Third Eye.” A brief interlude followed “Forty-Six & 2” that Tool came back from by way of a Danny drum solo that was three minutes of pure fire and speaking of fire, there was a bonfire of trash in the lawn section; a fitting sight since the first time I ever saw a bonfire at a show was the only other time I came to this venue to see Slayer and Marilyn Manson. Stay classy San Bernardino.

Getting out of the venue was a shit show. The people who were parked at the venue could not get out which also meant Uber drivers could not get in to give us a ride back to the Motel 666. After admitting defeat and staring at the stars we sat up to see the original couple from the hotel that was denied check in. We decided walking a mile and splitting a surge priced Uber was a better option than just sitting there so that is exactly what we did.

SETLIST: The Grudge, Parabol, Parabola, Schism, Opiate, AEnema, Descending, Jambi, Third Eye, Forty-Six & 2, The Pot, Vicarious, Sweat, Stinkfist


Mayhem Festival 7/12/09

Mayhem Festival 09

So there were quite a few bands at this festival but the only ones we cared about were Slayer and Marilyn Manson. I made my first trip to the San Manuel Amphitheater with Jason, Larry, and Christina. We had to travel the 2 hours because this was as close as the festival came to us. It’s probably a good thing that the bands we wanted to see didn’t play until the end of the show because we were all decently hung over from the Saturday before. Jason drove and I was drinking beers the whole time. I never really got drunk but definitely felt the effects the next day. So we hung out in the parking lot for about an hour before heading in. Good timing. Killswitch Engage was just getting on so we had time to get an $11 beer, etc. Apparently somebody got shanked at the show because this is a ghetto type area. Then it got dark and out came Slayer. People that like Slayer LOVE Slayer, namely Nicole, who bought tickets to this show when I did but then we had a falling out because of me meeting and falling for Ingrid. I never really liked Tom Araya’s voice but have slowly gotten more into Slayer as the years progress mostly because of the Seasons in the Abyss album. The real reason I was here was Marilyn Manson. I found somebody nearby willing to share a joint with me and I was off. They opened with “We’re From America” and that whipped me into a frenzy. It was cool to see them play “Little Horn” because I don’t think I had ever seen them play that song in all the times I had seen them before. They played the very electric version of “Four Rusted Horses” and that was also pretty badass but I think this was a turning point in the show. The only other new song they played was “Arma-goddamn-motherfuckin-geddon.” They ended with “The Beautiful People” and just like that after exactly an hour they were gone. No encore. I guess that’s what you get when you see him at a festival. After the long ride back home and a shitty night’s sleep I woke up with sore neck and back muscles from crazy head banging. I must have had a good time…