Day #11 - #13
So – onto Awesomefest…
Thursday we spent the day shopping, mainly back at the Vans store in Downtown. Then it was onto the Awesomefest Happy Hour at the Livewire Bar, where we got mega cheap happy hour beers and was treated to DJing by AF organiser Marty playing AF bands on the stereo. Tom and Alex smashed some pool balls around, while Tim and Kelly played “at being wasted” and took it easy for a couple of hours.
Then it was onto Bar Eleven and Soda Bar for part one of Awesomefest. Bar Eleven was small, but did great beer and had a well sorted gig area (capacity around 100?). Soda Bar was bigger, but did shitty beer and had a weird slanty stage that didn’t fit the venue – I guess capacity was 100+ if you could deal with standing in a crappy place with no view of the band!
The gigs were pretty empty – but we saw Lipstick Homicide, New Creases, Fake Boys, Eddie Murphys Law and The Anchor. The Anchor had a metalhead dude as the lead singer/bassist and played fast punk rock with glammy tunes. Great fun. Fake Boys were like a hardcore Weezer. Eddie Murphys Law were your basic pop punk thing and they spent the entire weekend going nuts to every band in the audience. Lipstick Homicide (4 young kids from Iowa doing mega pop punk via the Fastbacks) and New Creases blew my nuts off, and went on to re-blow-my-mind the following day. Was pleased I’d found two new bands that kicked my arse already. Final band of the night were Stymie – a band Kelly and Alex wanted to see. They sounded like – every other fest type band that listen to Dillinger Four. A bit yawnsville if you ask me – heard this stuff a million times, over and over again.
Friday daytime was spent swapping hotels to the Fest hotel in Highview (the Gay village of SD). Once we checked in, we registered for the festival and joined a few friends for beers by the pool. Then it was back to Eleven and Soda for Awesomefest part 1. Spent most of night 1 in Soda, as my line up for preferred bands were playing there. God Damn Doo Wop Band were first, who did a grungy 4-part girl-harmony doo-wop thing (like The Pipettes, but dirty) followed by Lipstick Homicide, who were as ridiculously ace as the previous day (these guys and girls don’t know how great they are). Then it was Gateway District and New Creases. Gateway District included a Soviettes member, and did the girlie pop punk thing brilliantly, including enough sass in frontwoman Carrie to remind me of early Blondie and lots of other old random girl bands, and they were also brilliant to watch. New Creases kicked arse for a second night in a row. They’re a girl/boy vocal three piece fronted by a crusty metalhead geezer bassist and a cute Joan Jett-alike guitarist. They play breakneck speed punk rock, like a mix between ThIs Is My Fist and The Distillers, with full on vocals, and ridiculously complicated guitar riffs. The Soviettes finished the evening, and were a total let down. The inclusion of Mikey Erg on drums (the US punk equivalent of a rent-a-punk) meant the band didn’t play any of the third album-male vocalled tracks, and drunkenly crashed through a set of early stuff they’d barely rehearsed. Vocalist Marens voice had blown during Gateway Districts set, so she was a write off, which left the bass player to be the entertaining band member of the eve, shouting at the audience and downing tequila shots. Well sloppy. Mega disappointment of the weekend.
Waking up late on Saturday, we headed straight to U31 for the second days day-section of Awesomefest, and dived straight into the beers to liven us up. Me, Tim and Tom headed next door to The Office to watch The Anchor and Fake Boys open up the proceedings. The Office was a weird venue – its obviously normally a little hip hop type club, and it felt like it had wandered into the venue line up by accident. Good stage and good view though. Terrible beer. Both bands played really well – Fake Boys did what they did the previous night, whereas The Anchor added a few more hardcore type songs into their glammy pop punk set. We then moved over to U31 for the rest of the afternoon. U31 was definitely the venue of the weekend, and should have been used for the evening instead of Soda. Big room, stage could be seen from all directions, fairly good sound, and excellent barstaff. We hadn’t been there for a week, but on entering, the bargirl – who we found out was called Bonnie, and who was also at Awesomefest – remembered the round from last time. Next up was The Steve Adamyk Band. I’d been wanting to see these guys since Chicago (they’d pulled out of Weaselfest), and had been playing the album a lot for the past few months. They were amazing. On record, they are like an 80s power pop type thing. Live they were more garagey, much faster and more aggressive, and tight as anything. They also possessed a horrendously drunk bass player who was thoroughly entertaining, and they ended the set with a cover of NOFXs “Bob”. Definitely one of the bands of the weekend for me, was blown away. Following them was Toys That Kill. I’d been aware of this band for a while, but never heard anything before. They were also bloody great, and also very weird. Again, they were on the face of it an old school pop punk band, but with some bizarre differences. Their songs didn’t seem to have any endings – they’d just stop as soon as they got going. They played repetitive riffs, and were quite heavy with the bass and tribal drumming (like early Wire?). The singer sang in a totally different key (on purpose). Absolutely loved them! Final band of the night were Scared Of Chaka. They were good, but I don’t really know what to say about them. Apparently they influenced most of the bands on the Awesomefest bill and it was a reunion show. I couldn’t hear the similarities at all…maybe someone else can explain?
There was a gap between sessions so we headed to a bar called Toronado, round the corner from the Office. It was a cool place that did mega beers, great food, and was staffed by cute tattooed barmaids. I settled for an awesome pulled pork sandwich with mac’n’cheese on the side, and a pint of some ace german beer. Was a cool place to hang out and we’d be heading here again.
Evening session was back to Soda. Turned up during Vacation Bible School, that I can only describe as being a skinhead oi pop punk band (US version). Next up were Be My Doppleganger and The Creeps. BMD are a band I’ve seen before and really enjoyed. They kind of have that beardy fest thing going on, but are far more rock’n’roll than those kinda bands and have some great tunes. The only trouble was, Mikey Erg obviously felt he was being left out today and spent the whole show being “annoying punk guy that has to prove he knows the band better than everyone else”. He was fucking annoying throughout the gig, trying to get onstage, hitting the bass while it was being played, and distracted the focus of the band onto him. Get a life dude. The Ergs don’t even exist anymore and you’re not even that well known. Get over it.
The Creeps were a mix between the Misfits and Alkaline trio, and were a great surprise. The drummer played perfect fast 4-4 speedy drums like the Ramones or the Buzzcocks, and lyrically, they were as weird and miserable as Alk3. It was a great mix and I’m surprised no one else does this so obviously as these guys.
Final band for me were White Wires. I watched half the set but buggered off to the hotel totally knackered. Three piece 60s power pop type thing with a girl drummer. Very poppy garage type thing, clean guitars, big choruses, kinda like what the Marked Men do but less punky. Really liked em, but was flagging. I knew tomorrow was gonna be a slog, so gave up and crashed back at the hotel.
Part 2 and more insights into the San Diego punk scene next...