The second night of La Escalera Fest was taking place at Til-Two Club. After eating some breakfast at Colima’s, a plate of Surf N’ Turf fries that is the only thing I ever want to eat again, most of the crew headed for a day at the zoo. I hoped a train north to my hometown of Oceanside, CA to spend a day reveling in the past. I saw Deadpool 2; it was pretty good. And I wandered around the old stomping grounds eventually finding myself at the Pour House, my former local watering hole, with a bunch of North County pals and my sister. Our friend Sergio even showed up (perhaps you remember him from last year’s La Escalera Fest?)! I hadn’t seen him in quite some time, and his infectious energy was a sight for these tired old eyes. The bad news was I missed all the bands except Allweather and Sic Waiting who I might have well missed because I was pretty sloshed and don’t really recall much. Top notch journalism!
Kendra take the wheel:
While I may have been kind of sloshed as well, I DID see all the bands. As Kevin stated, my day started with a scoot over to the famous San Diego Zoo where we all gathered outside by the giant metal lion. Our group was amazing, consisting of Kevin White (Squarecrow, punk rock model), Dan and Jeff (Four Lights) Manny (Allweather) and his lovely fiance Kiani, Devito, Aubree, Uriel (Ash Williams), and I think someone else but I’m so sorry I can’t remember! We had quiet the day drinking beers and fruity booze slushies, pulling pranks on each other, watching Dan spill his popcorn bucket all over the ground, heckling children, and people and animal watching. By the end of the day, it was time to scoot home and I was exhausted.
I made it back to the hotel for a quick nap and then hopped back on my sweet scoot ride and headed over to Til-Two with Skyler and Ollie. There may or may not have been a little collision on the way over, by my knee has healed, so the evidence of supposed drunken tumble is long gone. On with the show!
Lightweight kicked off the night with their amazing set. The first I had heard of these guys was from only mere weeks ago when Skyler sent me their Bandcamp link and told me to brush up on some good music. He wasn’t wrong. They remind me of Fitness, a band from Chicago, which combines similar music stylings. But damn, these guys are great.
Next was Nights Like Thieves. I don’t think that I had seen these guys before. In all honesty, they may have been the one band that I missed at LE6 last year, while I was outside in the alley chugging BuzzBallz with Kevin and the Four Lights guys. But I caught them tonight and reveled in their post punk, emo blend.
Despero took to the stage. My god, what a fun band. I first saw them last year at Awesome Fest in SD. I quickly became friends with the band, although I cannot remember how. My guess is over drinks. But I have been a fan ever since. Singer Brady Black paces onstage and in the crowd, reminding me of a more approachable Skinhead Rob (but with hair, a hat, and glasses) as the rest of the band emulates that sought after 90s Hardcore Punk sound. For sounding so gruff onstage, the band members are such sweethearts. I hope that doesn’t ruin their street cred.
I love, love, love New Way On. When La Escalera put out their Roads Home EP in 2016, I was smitten. I listened to the song “Blue Dress” nonstop for at least two weeks. In fact, I’m listening to it again now. They’re just such a solid, catchy band. And fuck me if I sound biased when I say this, but they have two women in the group, which will always sway my judgement on a musical project. Jacque Mendez plays the keys and has pipes like a 60s pop diva and Steph Presz pounds the drums like a goddamn pro (plus she’s my blonde bang twin and part of the illustrious Table 10)! When it comes down to it, there’s not really any part of New Way On that I am not madly in love with.
The Dodges and Gentlemen Prefer Blood were up back-to-back. I had never seen The Dodges before, but I had heard so much about them. It seemed like, out of all the recent La Escalera releases, their news made it across the country to Chicago the most frequently. The band plays poppy, melodic, punk. It’s the kind that reminds you of what early 2000s Southern California Punk is supposed to sound like. GPB was amazing, as always. I can’t even count how many times I have seen this band over the years, and I am always entertained. The music is always executed flawlessly, all wrapped up in gang style sing along vocals.
I was starting to lose steam and headed outside for some fresh air, which is when I saw Kevin. He was standing on the sidewalk, smoking a cigarette, acting drunk and strange. I asked him what was up and he suddenly jumped to the side, revealing Sergio, who had been hiding behind him. That fucking nerd! It felt like forever since I had seen that guy. We only had time to talk for a second or two. That’s the problem with fests like this, you don’t have time to really catch up with friends like Sergio or you’ll miss a band!
We all headed inside to watch Allweather. First, let me give props to Manny for drunken zoo partying with us all day in the sun AND playing a show later that night. He destroyed those drums. The band is better literally every time I see them. Think the last time I reveled in their gritty vocaled punk was last year in Oakland, at This is My Fest. Tonight they played songs from their 2017 release Home is Where You Make It along with new material off their (hopefully) soon to be released album due out later this year.
Last up was San Diego’s own (well, Oceanside really) Sic Waiting. It seems like every time I see Mr. Jared Stinson, he’s backed by a new crew of musicians. I didn’trecognize anyone onstage tonight, but I remembered that – between sips of my Tito’s & Soda – I thought this lineup really gelled. They played their well-oiled brand of SoCal and closed out the night. Show over.
We half-assed our goodbyes, knowing that we’d see everyone again in mere hours for another day into night full of drinking and debauchery. Jess King was kind enough to drive all of us (I think there were 5? 6?) to our hotels. But the stomach wants what it wants. And Skyler, Kevin, and I ended up at Denny’s for a late night grease filled snack before trudging back over to the hotel and passing out as soon as our heads hit our pillows. Day 2 in the books.