“If you like-a da marijuana, make some noise!!! If you smoke-a da marijuana, make some noise!!! I shit da marijuana shits!!!” --Collie Buddz West Beach Music Festival…Ah! A two-day gathering in Santa Barbara of reggae bands, four-drink maximum restrictions to the beer garden, occasional whiffs of pot clouds from lucky attendees who somehow snuck it in through maximum security, and the Jose Cuervo games, sponsored by Cuervo, despite the “no hard alcohol allowed on the premises” policy. I could end this story right here, with “enough said” because I didn’t leave fulfilled musically, but will instead enlighten you on my questionable contraction of black lung, an almost broken neck and my mission to rekindle a childhood crush on the lead singer from UB40…while of course sprinkling in the musical experience, too.
Friday night, I will admit that Katchafire, a band out of New Zealand held my attention their entire set. Unlike most of the other bands, they had the crowd not just swaying, but skankin' enthusiastically. I love them and will commit to purchasing their music.
Collie Buddz, who shits marijuana shits and who could be compared to Shaggy, also impressed and had me thoroughly intrigued. The headliner from Friday, Rebelution, dragged on and on so much, I abandoned ship early and slumped out of the venue with a slight tickle in my throat from the dirt dust floating around the festival.
Saturday, I knew that at 4:00pm I had to participate in the Jose Cuervo games. Waking up with a black lung-esque cough, I couldn’t be less excited if I tried. However, my three teammates and I trekked to Santa Barbara in hopes to hear decent music and to win a trip to Vegas through Cuervo. I also anticipated running into UB40 (side note: according to Wikipedia, “UB40” stands for “Unemployment Benefits form # 40"...really?). We arrived and bands including Passafire, Loomis and The Lust, Tyrone Wells, and Giant Panda, were less than impressive. The crowd had been sparse all day and I will blame that on the lackluster energy on stage.
Finally, the time arrived that led my team and me to the Cuervo tent to prepare for our event. We signed our lives away and chose “The Situation” as our team name. I cut my sleeves off, ripped the crew neck to a v-neck, strapped on a helmet, knee and elbow pads, and made my way to the Waterfall Climb event. “The Situation” strapped into its harnesses, one by one, on opposite sides of the rock climbing wall. We had 45 seconds to climb to the top and ring the bell. I had this!!! Forty seconds after the gun shot, three of four bells had rang, mine NOT included. I reached a point of the wall, with a monsoon amount of water violently gushing down onto my face, that stopped me dead in my tracks. I failed.
The second event, a Barrel Roll relay, had us climbing an inflated Mayan pyramid to retrieve a flag while Donkey Kong barrels were thrown at us. If you creatively dismounted from the top, your team would receive extra points. I reached the flag with stealthy speed but dismounted with a high-jump-bounce-halfway-down-flip and inappropriately landed on my neck. I could’ve died. I didn’t receive creative points and our team lost by a hair. I failed, once again.
The third, Margarita Madness, made one teammate balance an oversized glass on his/her head, dipping it in salt, filling it with margarita mix, catching limes in it thrown by the teammates, walking across (glass full) the stage and finally dumping the cocktail into a measuring cup. I made three limes but we somehow lost that event too. I did not fail, but our team did as a whole.
“The Situation” did not advance to the Vegas championship, but as far as I’m concerned we were successful in missing more mediocre bands in exchange for good times and death risks. Victory!
Once changed from our soppy clothes, we sat through Still Time. The bassist had a handsome demeanor to him, so I watched fixated until the John Popper look-a-like lead singer spoke. His accent sounded like a southern man moved to England, moved to Compton and then relocated to Amarillo. I later asked the band his origin and they answered, “San Louis Obispo.”
After two days of this festival, UB40 arrived to the venue. As a child, I made eye contact with the singer as his limo passed me as they departed from a concert; I felt a spark then and wondered what I would feel as an adult. I made myself available in their area in hopes of a run-in. After my friend told my man to wait behind him in the bathroom line, I bailed and took position in the field for viewing their performance. No eye contact, no spark. I failed.
They sang three old songs including “Red Red Wine,” “Fools Rush In” and “Here I Am” …Other than that, I would not recommend buying their newest album “Labour of Love IV,” which holds every other song they sang; not notable.
Soja closed the night (for me at least…my black lung led to an early departure). Although I didn’t dig the music, the crowd’s excitement infected me and I would consider it the highlight of the musical journey.
Over all, I hated the West Beach Music Festival but concluded that with good company and Cuervo (not the liquor, but the sponsor), a dusty atmosphere, boring bands and a near death experience can be overlooked- even with the contraction of a stiff neck and a black lung.