“God damn it, Fernando!”
We could only watch as our Lyft driver, Fernando, drove past us once again and had to loop around for the fifth time as we stood in the ‘ride share’ section of the San Diego International Airport. I never really understood the word “cranky” until I turned 32, only got five hours of sleep, and had to sit in the middle seat on a four hour Spirit flight. I was over Fernando’s shit. Kendra and I were ready to be complete assholes as Fernando finally found the right road to go down, but when we jumped in his car, he was so fucking sweet we were just a different kind of asshole.
It had been a solid eight months since I’ve been “home.” As Fernando drove us to our destination I couldn’t help but think everything looked browner than I remembered. I’m talking the sky, the grass, the buildings, everything. I guess after powering through a white Midwest winter and seeing everything turn green in the spring, ol’ waterless San Diego lost all its vibrancy to me. But then in the distance, like a beacon of scumminess, was Lancers. The dark and nearly empty bar beckoned us to come in for our first drinks of the weekend. Aubree was already there, offering up some Thai food and introducing us to what would become the staple of our weekend: electric scooters. I guess a handful of major cities in California are trying out “rent-a-scooter” that you unlock with an app on your phone. It cost $1 to start it up and 15 cents a minute to ride. That sounds like it could add up, but we got around all weekend for about an average of $2.15 a trip. Plus they were fun as fuck to ride.
Slowly, everyone else began to trickle in. Kevin White, the dudes in Heck Yes, Devito, and Four Lights filled the bar as we all caught up, drank blue drinks, and played Big Buck Hunter. But we weren’t just there to drink at an awesome bar; we were there for La Escalera Fest 7. We rolled seven deep on scooters from University Heights across town to the Soda Bar for the night’s festivities. With PEARS coming through town, Will Castro decided to start the fest a day early, satisfying most of the bands who like to complain about only being on the “Pre-Fest” shows, while also drawing out the crowd who will only come out when a band on a label like Fat Wreck Chords or higher play. Smart move, Will.
In another smart move, most of the bands playing on Thursday were more of the “Hardcore” variety. Brain Waves, Dallas’ Fat by the Gallon, and Sculpins started the night off as we watched bands and caught up with all the buddies who couldn’t make it to Lancers earlier. Right before Ash Williams took the stage, Four Lights’ Jeff Mangalin shoved a Buzzball into my hands and motioned for all of us to follow him into the alley. I was mostly shocked it had taken three bands before we got around to doing this. The Four Lights guys chugged their premixed ‘Ballz in two seconds while the rest of us sipped on them, savoring the putrid fruit-like flavors like normal folk. Kendra and Dan hopped onto one of those green electrical boxes to do “Street Yoga” while the rest of us nerds were talking about all the Marvel Studios movies to date.
Pissed Regardless took the stage next as Matt Gerken paced around screaming at the audience. New Orleans’ HiGH was the poppiest band of the night. And PEARS closed it out with their trademarked high energy set. I swear to god, every time I see this band, singer Zach Quinn looks like a completely different person. Tonight he was sporting a mullet and an over-sized Donkey Kong shirt that read “Barrels Of Fun!” PEARS has been touring almost non-stop since they appeared on the scene, so you should know by now that their live show is one of the best around, with Zach running around doing shit like putting the microphone stand in his mouth and jumping all over like a damn mad man possessed. Tonight they kept saying they are going to play a “brand new PEARS song” and they played Green Day’s “Basket Case” instead. It was an A+ performance, like always.
After the show, we got a Lyft back to the hotel because all of our the scooters were gone when we came out of Soda Bar. That’s one of the downfalls to the ‘rent-a-scoot;’ anyone can come and take them whenever. It was probably a good thing though, I didn’t have my glasses and I cannot see at night. Trying to avoid the big blurs probably wouldn’t be the best way to make it home. (Editor’s Note: the Lyft was also a grand idea because Kendra was very, VERY drunk). Also, shout out to the Skyler and Oliver from Heck Yes for letting Kendra and I stay in their hotel! It was real nice to have a place to finally sleep after a long day of traveling on shitty airlines, drinking with friends, and watching bands.