Throughout my confounding, inexplicable life, I have
embarked on numerous adventures and have witnessed a multitude of astonishing
sights (like peering over the edge of the Grand Canyon
at sunset or watching a bum urinate on an unconscious transvestite outside a
While these excursions have shaped me in a variety of
enlightening and horrific ways, I am still haunted by several of them. Sometimes I’ll have an unprovoked flashback
of, say, the time I drank moonshine on a plane (this was pre 9/11) and
inappropriately began fondling my carry-on luggage, much to the shock and
dismay of the sober passengers sitting beside me.
Anyway, despite these psychological “hiccups,” I still slog
through my daily existence undeterred. Yet, every so often, I find myself repeating certain situations in my
mind; especially when they are as scarring and troubling as the various outdoor
summer music festivals (or, as the cool kids call them, OSMFs) I have unwisely
attended throughout the years. And you
know what? Even after reliving these
memories, I still never seem to learn from my mistakes. So, with yet another summer riding off into
the sunset, why not join me on a tour through my inaugural OSMF experience and my
most recent OSMF experience…
The first outdoor summer music festival I attended was
Lollapalooza in 1993; which took place at the Santa Fe Dam in Los
Angeles, California. The first indication that this was going to
be a descent into hell was the fact that the concert was being held AT A DAM IN
LOS ANGELES! I wasn’t even aware that L.A.
had a dam. I can only assume that the dam prevents plastic surgeons, out of work actors and
toothless prostitutes from escaping the city limits.
Apparently, the dam is located in a park or something. You wouldn’t know it though (at least I didn’t
know it sixteen years ago), since all one could see were dirt, ditches,
quarries and sporadic clumps of grass. And nothing quite brings out the luster of dirty rocks like blinding,
searing heat. And that’s the main staple
of outdoor summer concerts…HEAT!
Had I known back then that the planet was in the process of being
plowed by Satan’s furious manhood, I would have prepared a little more
carefully. Unfortunately, being the
stupid teenager that I was, I only brought a couple of bucks with me (as did my
group of friends) and we quickly knew trouble was in store for us after
spotting scores of people lugging around gigantic jugs of water. And did any of us bring sunscreen? Hell no! Sunscreen’s for pussies! Moles, freckles and melanoma…that’s what healthy-looking skin
needs! Who gives a shit if your epidermis looks like the surface of a chocolate chip cookie!
Anyway, after gaining access to the venue and walking miles and
miles to the stage, I began to feel like a marauder scavenging across a densely
populated futuristic wasteland. A wasteland
teeming with freaky people tripping balls on acid. While it was nice to see the original Alice
In Chains lineup perform, I can barely
recall the concert itself because I was too busy getting my hair pulled out by
a tumbling crowd surfer (who latched onto my wild mane before she hit the muddy
ground). And don’t ask me what it was like listening to the
throbbing baselines of the headlining band Primus, cause I
couldn’t tell you. During their set, my attention was focused on the drunk moron who
slapped me in the face and tore my right shoe off my foot; disappearing into
the crowd faster than a Cheeto from Camryn Manheim’s pudgy palm.
I also remember standing in line for about forty minutes
(completely missing Tool’s performance) in the hopes of getting a dollop of
steamy, rancid water from the communal water fountain. My parched lips furiously lapped-up the hot
H20 as equally-dehydrated concertgoers playfully kicked my ribs in an effort to
get me to “hurry up.”
By the time the festival was over, my sun-baked face was
redder than a Shih Tzu’s dick, I only had one shoe, half my hair had been
yanked out and most of my friends were missing (having been swallowed by the
massive, unwashed crowds). Plus, in
order to combat the long lines when exiting the grounds, I came up with the
bright idea to scale the dam. Maybe I
was suffering from heatstroke or something. Regardless, I limped up the dam with my one good foot. After reaching the top and steadily tumbling
down the other side, I came face to face with a chain-linked fence. Knowing I had no choice but to climb it, I
grabbed hold of the steel beast and hoisted my burly frame over it, only to get
my right ass cheek caught on a pointy piece. As I daintily struck the pavement, I quickly realized that a significant
chunk of my ass had been ripped out by the fence. There it was, dangling from the fence like
shark chum over the side of a boat.
So, I stumbled to my friend’s car; sunburned, half-bald, one-legged
and bleeding profusely from my ass. Just
like my altar-boy days.
And, like I mentioned before, I have yet to learn from this
experience. Many summer music festivals
have come and gone; all displaying similar characteristics (like horrendous food/drink/bathroom
lines, scorching heat, too many people, funky smells…and sweat, lots and lots
of sweat). Despite my better judgment, I
decided to attend the San Diego Street Scene a few weeks ago. Mainly, I wanted to go because a bunch of my
friends had won tickets to it and I, somewhat miraculously, ended up winning
San Diego Street Scene is a two-night, bacchanalian romp
through the cordoned-off streets of downtown San Diego. Multiple stages are located throughout the
streets, separated by long stretches of overpriced food and drink vendors. And, even though the event doesn’t get going
until darkness falls, it is still unbearably hot out (due to the weather, as
well as the body heat radiating off of the thousands of drunk douchebags dancing
in the streets), making the festivities about as comfortable as rolling around
in a puddle of freshly-dumped asphalt. Basically, the atmosphere is similar to that of a county/state fair
(sans the rides), if the county/state fair had been shat out onto the surface
of the sun.
Now, I have no idea how the weather has been in other parts
of the country or in other parts of the world, but these last couple of weeks
in San Diego have been insanely hot
and humid. Just standing motionless under
a shady tree is enough to brew a thick gravy in your pants. It’s been hot. Balls hot. And sticky. The kind of sticky
where your underwear sticks to your skin and you need a pair of salad tongs and
a fly swatter to tear away the sopping-wet, X-Large Hanes from your wide-ass.
In order to pull off this monstrous
concert/fair/clusterfuck, the Street Scene organizers block off several streets
and generally make life a living hell for anybody who has anywhere to go to in
the city. And, not only do the
organizers make life a living hell for commuters and city-dwellers, but they’ve
been kind enough to destroy the souls of the paying public too. How do they accomplish this? By printing incomprehensible maps and
disregarding all notions of common sense when it comes to the fabled beer
garden (by the way, where the fuck did the term “beer garden” originate? When I think of a “beer garden,” images of drunken
forest nymphs and hammered woodland creatures dance inside my head…not puking
frat boys and gussied-up skanks).
The first night, I attempted to catch Mastodon play a set,
but was thwarted by the labyrinthine venue layout (which, as far as I could
tell, consisted of somebody saying “Let’s just throw a bunch of shit down some
streets and let the ticket-holders figure out where they need to be”). Distraught and disappointed, I took it upon
myself to self-medicate, so I camped out at the entrance to one of the many beer
gardens. After finally getting inside, I had the pleasure of waiting in a wet,
stinky beer line for twenty minutes. When it came my turn to order a couple of drinks, I was informed by the
beer wench that they didn’t take cash. No, they only took tickets.
She pointed to the opposite side of the garden. I could barely make out the “Ticket Tent” in
the distance, for there was a sea of inebriated bastards blocking my view. I
took a deep breath and swam through the drunken tides; bodysurfing over to the
ticket line…where I waited some more. After
wasting away in this line for fifteen minutes, I eventually reached the front
and plunked downs ten bucks for five taster tickets. Mind you, a taster is roughly the size of
Mickey Rooney’s pinky toe, so you know I got my money’s worth. Then I had to wade back into the beer line
again and get my ticket punched. Since I
only have two hands, I could only order two tasters at a time. By the time I got out of the line, the
searing heat had already evaporated half the beer.
Then my friends and I spent, oh, an eon or so trying to
decode the obtuse map. We finally
figured out where some of the stages were located and we were able to kind of
see and mostly hear Cake perform, as well as Modest Mouse. For the Modest Mouse set, I was crammed in
the back, which was a ton of sweaty fun. Have you ever been in a sauna with a bunch of frat guys all jacked-up on
beer and bong hits? Well, neither have
I, but this came goddamn close. Things
picked up though when a girl in front of me passed-out from the heat and was
escorted to a private area (actually, she was tossed over a railing and plopped
down on the boiling concrete), where she was dutifully “fanned” by the security
guards. Man, how I envied her.
Anyway, after sweating out about fifteen excess pounds, I
decided to regain my strength by ordering an obscenely large polish sausage
(another ten bucks there), which not only broke the bank, but also made me feel
slightly inadequate and, once again, envious (as well as sexually
confused). With a belly full of meat and
warm beer and my ears ringing from the screams of drunken girls and guys and a
frothy brew of sweat-stock bubbling in my pants, my friends, thankfully,
decided to put me out of my misery by leaving the OSMF.
And I lived to see another day (but not another Street
Scene…my girlfriend and I wisely decided to forgo the second night). And, despite the infuriating beer lines, the
exorbitant prices for food and drinks, the crowds crammed of drunken yahoos,
the ass-igniting heat and the fathoms-deep pools of sweat; I know that I will,
once again, go to an another outdoor summer music festival. And why is that? Because I am an optimist at heart. And an idiot.
A big fucking idiot.
See you next summer!
Follow me or I’ll kick your ass!