This weekend definitely started on Friday, as weekends tend to do. Jonesy, LIl Danny, and Jessica met up in Highland Park at Las Cazuelas for some pupusa madness (see their yelp for our reviews) and their now infamous $5 pitchers at happy hour. After dinner, I went straight home in a severe food coma, and went to bed early, preparing myself for what I knew would be one hell of a huge weekend.
Saturday morning, I woke up at 8 am, and went on a bike ride/hill climb. Got my good workout in, Then got busy breaking in my new brew paddle with a batch if IPA. This is a SMaSH beer, which is an acronym for Single Malt, and Single Hop beer. The malt is simple old domestic two row, and the hops are Amarillo. Here’s the super stripped down, uber-simple recipe. ANYbody can make this beer. I think it’s foolproof. We’ll see if it’s tasty or not soon though.
A lot of people have given me shit for only using Domestic two row in this beer, because they feel I should add at least a little bit of complexity and body to it, but I feel like all of us use it as a base malt for beers, but nobody I know personally really knows what it tastes like on its own. Hence, this beer, this batch is an experiment to see what the base tastes like, and what Amarillo Hops taste like on their own, without any interference from heavy malt or other hops in the mix.
After the bike ride and shower, I set up my brew kettle at about 10 am, and the total brew day was probably done by about 3 pm. When all was said and done, I placed 5 gallons in my fermenter, and it’s happily bubbling away in the fermentation chamber, AKA my modified fridge.
After brewing, my brother grilled up some carne asada and we had that with some Negra Modelo, then off to bed.
Sunday was the day I had been looking forward to. Woke up about 11 after sleeping in way too late, and jumped right in the shower, getting ready to head to Santa Anita racetrack to watch the ponies run and make some wagers. My brother drove, we rode in his 84 Caddy, and arrived in time to hear the first race, found our seats by the second race, and noticed that both my picks so far had won, even though I hadn’t placed a bet yet. I met up with our party, about 8 or ten of us showed up and we had full run of two Clubhouse Boxes in section G. Simply put, it was a beautiful Southern California day, with all the magic of the mountains, the clear clean air mixed with the smell of horses and moist earth down by the rail, and of course the thunder of the hooves on these guys as they rounded the turns.
By the third race, we were settled, and my brother and I placed a couple of bets. I went straight up to win, following my picks list, as sis a couple in our party. My brother, placing his first bets of the day, made a crazy trifecta box bet that was going to cost him 30 dollars. He asked the bet booth lady to change it down to about $12, and she did, after I told him “Make the bet you want to make.”
After the race, we all sat around heartbroken at having lost our first big bets of the day, me cursing my first bad pick of the day, and my tardiness. My brother, at that moment, pulls out the crazy trifecta bet, and I notice on the results board, that a trifecta pays out $324.00. He had made that bet, twice. Excited, and in a bit of self doubt and disbelief, we headed up to the cash booths, and the lady who took the bet for him directed him to the IRS booth. . . Then it hit us, he had won some real money! $644 to be exact, and our jaws dropped when they told us the amount. In the back of my mind the whole day, was the knowledge, that I had encouraged him to change it back down to what it was. I think he would have won something like 1800 dollars if he had stuck with his “mistake” bet. It was killing me, so I told him about it, and he said he had thought of it, but who knows, if we had made that bet, maybe the results would have changed? My brother is a thinker, and while I wouldn’t call it superstition, I could see where he was coming from. He was happy with his winnings, and I was happy to let him buy me a few beers. Besides, I had given him the last horse to pick in the trifecta, so I felt we were even.
With a nice buzz, after hanging out all day with our friends and partying in the parking lot afterwards, we split up, and my brother drove me home. All the way home, we would burst out in spontaneous laughter, at our incredible luck on the day. I had profited, my bets weren’t as big, but throughout the day I made some good ones, and came out on top, even after all my beer.
Got home, had some lunch, then showered up again, and jumped on the train to Wilshire and Western, as I had 4 tickets to see SOUNDGARDEN!!!!
I grew up listening to these guys, in fact, when I was probably 17, I opened a BMG Columbia House CD account, and I remember Soundgarden being one of the first CD’s I ever purchased, if not THE first. They’re huge in my influences, on the heavy side, and definitely on the bass side. I’ve been following them ever since, but hadn’t seen them to date. After they broke up, I regretted never seeing them, but they’re back now, and I wasn’t going to miss them again.
We showed up and at first pushed our way toward stage right, where Kim Thayil was, but the sound was just awful there, so we moved up to the spots right behind the soundboard, and got a much better earful.
Soundgarden to me, are a staple. When I first purchased an Ipad, one of the first things I did was to record a cover of “Blow Up The Outside World” in garage band, to test it out. People went crazy over that little thing when I showed it to them, telling me I should start a band, and all kinds of crazy nonsense. It was just a test, but even recording that one song, I saw how much my playing relied on some things they may have taught me.
So the sound from behind the soundboard was great, although the bass was a little difficult to make out. They were recording the whole show for some kind of Audio Visual production, and because of this, there were big cranes everywhere, blocking the view, which really sucked. Still, we were in the perfect audio space, and it was nice to look at the editor guy’s monitors for close ups of the show live.
The backdrops and art were incredible. Pine trees silhouetted by a raging forest fire behind them, done in the most mindbendingly trippy way. This would cut to big panels of outdoor scenes, and mixed with the flashing lights and big LED array above them, made for an eyeful to match he audio.
The visuals were incredible, although I’m not sure what the band means with their new logo type art. It looks like a spider crab leg or some thing, intersecting with a typeface X and a couple of wrenches thrown in. Going to have to look into that a bit more. At times, the crab leg thingies took up the whole of the backdrop, looking almost like a massive writhing pile of these things, coming at you in a big line like a charging army. Perhaps that is the intent, and I’m thinking about it too much, still, it made an impact, and was pretty awesome.
I have to admit, this first half of the set, where they played mostly new or more obscure material kind of worried me, but then after they got through it, and the hits started raining down, my face was thoroughly melted. I felt like I was the only fool jumping around, and I probably was, but it didn’t matter. In my head it was around 98, and I was that kid learning to play better bass, and listening to these guys religiously. I kept thinking back to when I was a youth, these songs had that effect on me, and I was reveling in it. Black Hole Sun was second to last, and a little choppy, but awesome. At the very end, Ben Shepherd did this CRAZY heavy distorted bass outro to the whole show, while Thayil made his guitar feedback and eventually left his P Bass facing his wall of bass amps, summoning the bass feedback gods in all their fury and heaviness. . . sounded like he had de-tuned his bass also, as it sounded like the strings were flopping around all over the place, drenched in echo and slapping against pickups in a hot noisy mess. Before walking off the stage, he lit a cigarette, or a joint, and walked off the stage in a puff of smoke. . . . .
As for why I would think it was a J, well, they were definitely burning up on stage. Shepherd was even sharing blunts with the audience, and he and Thayil passed one back and forth on stage while Cornell told a story at one point.
One thing that bugged me, but also bugs me every time in this great city of ours, is the lack of audience participation. I felt like I was annoying people for moving around, while they all stood their holding jackets and staring vapidly at the bad. I was jumping around, bumping into Rob and his brother Danny, who joined me along with Rob’s wife Jeanette. Having a blast, but I guess people thought that the floor was only for standing on, cause they would park themselves RIGHT in front of me, and I would have to like bump them along and keep them moving. I imagine that bigger bands would hate playing in LA, because of the apathetic crowds, and Sunday night, well, it was pretty embarrassing Like I say though, I don’t let it get to me. I felt really bad when someone tried to start a pit, and the CROWD shut him down. . . Security didn’t even have to get involved, he was just ostracized from where you could see and hear the band, and you could tell he wanted to have way more fun, than the crowd was allowing. Terrible.
The Wiltern however, always nice. I’ve seen a few choice shows there, and it’s always a good time. It was also nice that they had BIG Lagunitas IPA’s on tap for $8, and I definitely took advantage of that.
The last song they played was “Ty Cobb”, and it made me wonder if Cornell did that as a tongue in cheek way to scream at LA, “Hard Headed? FUCK YOU ALL” over and over again. Totally reasonable in my opinion.
Got out of the show at about 11, so that made the whole show about 2 and a half hours long! home by around midnight on the train, which is nice. Didn’t have to drive, or pay for parking, and living by the Gold line, I got home in less than 45 minutes. When I got home, I pounded 1.5 liters of water, being dehydrated from a whole weekend’s worth of drinking, took an Alleve for a headache that was just starting, and crashed hard and heavy.
Woke up this morning, feeling like I needed to write about the Soundgarden show the way you need to write about a dream RIGHT after you wake up, lest you lose some of the more interesting and defining details. It was my first time seeing them, and I’m listening to them now after writing this. You can tell by my drunken tweet last night that I was in a hell of a mood, freshly face melted and kicked in the ass by a night of solid rocking.
First though, I had to get over to Modern Auto and see my Coronet. It was awesome seeing the wiring halfway done, and the Disc Brakes installed, looking brand new, the way brake rotors only look once in their life, without rust or any signs of usage whatsoever. New Master Cylinder, new solid transmission lines, which previously had been sitting in the corner of my room for about 5 years, so you can imagine how good it was to see them installed. I also received a ton of old cast iron, the brake drums, the spindles, and the hubs. Not really sure what to do with them, right now they’re chilling in front mom’s porch, so I suppose I’ll have to do something about that soon.
Thanks for reading, please leave a comment if you made it all the way down here!