Sand Section Blog: The Rockin Roots Festival (June 2011)

I want to start off by saying that our CD release show on Friday kicked proverbial ass. We had a great turnout, we played great, and our efforts secured us a coveted opening spot on the beach for the Summer Concert Series in Hermosa Beach. Basically we could not be happier. As an added bonus, our new EP has been getting nothing but great reviews from everyone who has heard it, so at the moment we are doing stellar.

Enough about all that though, let me share with you a tale that is much more consistent with a usual Sand Section outing. So kick back and enjoy our Saturday adventure out to Bakersfield where we played the Rockin Roots Festival and quickly discovered that the word "Roots" was far from an accurate description of the day's events.

I apologize in advance if I offend anyone from Bakersfield throughout the course of this post, I am merely sharing my personal experience with the city. Maybe there are some nice parts of the place I just didn't see any. Having said that, we arrived in crappy Bakersfield some time around 2:00pm sharp. From the moment we pulled up, we were greeted by dust, a manure fragrance, poverty, a threatening sky, and amateur hardcore death metal echoing throughout the air. All of these factors culminated into what some could describe as a horrific nightmare.

The first person we ran into was a homeless man wielding a sign that said "I'm hungry, please help." He pointed to the "hungry" part and said to me "Please sir I really mean it." I unfortunately had no cash on me because I am in a rock band, but before I could tell him that he said "And I could also really use a beer." Then he started cackling like a demon and proceeded to repeat the words "Hungry, Hungry, Hungry" in a really creepy voice. I should probably also mention that he had three teeth total. Welcome to Bakersfield.

As we approached the entrance to the festival, all we could hear were the cacophonous screams created by eight death metal bands all playing at the same time on different stages. Perhaps Tony said it best, "Dude, it sounds like we are walking into hell." For a second there I thought he was right. The sound created by this festival sounded like tormented souls desperately crying out for freedom from eternal torture.

As we entered the front gate, we all took a deep breath as we watched an obese metal-head with significantly more ink than bare skin on his body walk by us wearing a shirt that said "Kill Your Local Drug Dealer." He was followed by a slough of other psychotics wearing shirts like: Killafornia, Hopeless in Paradise, and my personal favorite Crowbar Massage.

We finally settled near a stage where a band was setting up. We basically settled there because it was the only quiet place in the whole festival. Then of course, the band started. Lucky for us they opened up with their smash hit, "Jesus Christ was a Prostitute," and all these crazy people crawled out from whatever rock they live under and started swinging their fists everywhere. Imagine a mosh pit, now imagine a mosh pit where all the members are violently swinging their fists in attempt to severely injure anyone that gets in their pathetic path of distraction. It was probably one of the more mature rituals I have ever witnessed (sarcasm intended). Tony got some footage of the bizarre occurrence and has posted it here:
Be sure to check that out. You can hear at the end where the singer screams his famous line about Jesus Christ, and then it pans to me in the back laughing hysterically about how ridiculous I felt to be around such utter madness.

That was obviously more than enough for us, and yet our set wasn't for another three and a half hours. We decided to go wait in the car, and we even contemplated going home for fear that we would be sacrificed for playing music that tries to make people feel good. As we got to the car, someone next to us was ironically listening to Mariah Carey over their car stereo, and it was literally a breath of fresh air. It was like a gulp of ice cold stream water after summiting a mountain in the bowels of hell.

Next stop was the liquor store where we grabbed some much needed tall cans. There were of course many more homeless people laying outside the store which made the day just a little more depressing. I feel like the only thing worse than being homeless is being homeless in Bakersfield. You definitely know there is poverty afoot when you accidentally punch your debit card pin code into a food stamp machine like I did at that liquor store. Whoops.

After our beer run, we tailgated in the parking lot until it was time to play our set. As we carried our gear over to the stage we finally saw some friendlies setting up to play before us. The band was called Dread Daze, which I had only assumed to mean "days full of terror", but the name was actually referring to dreadlocks. Alas there was a reggae band playing amongst the metalfest, and they were even a good reggae band. We immediately felt much more comfortable, and got excited about playing our set.

One minor setback that we had to deal with was that we found ourselves without a bass or a bass amp, Fortunately we were helped by some more friendlies. The bass player for the band Zuhg, another non-metal group, was extremely kind enough to allow Tony to use both his bass and his amp which was an absolute lifesaver.

Although we had some sound problems during our first couple songs, I would consider our set to be a success. It was late enough in the day that I think people were tired of listening to six straight hours of hardcore music and were delighted to hear a band play that wasn't trying to melt their faces into a thick viscous goo. We still weren't sure if anyone was going to be interested at all in our sound so we decided to give out free CD's, which were all snagged in less than ten seconds. That was probably a bad idea thinking back, but we were just happy that people were interested in our music.

All in all I would call the day a small victory for Sand Section. We learned more about the death metal scene than we really cared to know, but that is part of this unbelievable business. It is still amazing to me that there is so much anger out there, and all of these death metal-heads have so much hate in their hearts. Some people after a hard day at the office like to put on their favorite rock song and throw their fist in the air which is understandable. A lot of these people, however, want to take that fist and beat the hell out of anyone within arms reach, and then go burn down their parents house. It's pretty tragic.

On a lighter note, thank you everyone for your continued love and support of our band and for following along with all of our wacky little adventures. If you haven't already, please go download the new EP from the music part of our website, I think you will really enjoy it. Rock on.