Stained shoes, ink smeared wrists, hop marbled livers, and creatively paramount artists. This year at Soda Bar I have inadvertently given stingers to my friends while excitedly leaping on them during shows (I spilled 60% of my beer on my Boston University sweatshirt while jumping up and down to Brooklyn’s Sharkmuffin). A few events later, Portland’s Summer Cannibals blew me away to the point of Soda Bar looking like it was hit by the explosion at the end of Stranger Things (Jessica Boudreaux is like a combination of Storm from X-Men and a goddamn buzz saw). Katie Howard of Big Bloom created at least six sink holes in San Diego from the raw power of “Punk Song”. And at one point I even peddled my feet around like a Peanuts character to Tacocat as Emily Nokes banged out “Crimson Wave” (I wanted so badly to ask Bree McKenna for fashion tips but I did not want to bother her).
Of course, I had been beating the pavement at Soda Bar for years: I’ll never forget Freezepop bringing down the venue, way back in the when. Also, do you realize how long Ian Owen has been killing it at this venue? I get goosebumps. So many great, mercurial, chill, and flat-out visionary artists have peeled back wigs at the venerable establishment with the assistance of menacing riffs and syrupy vocals. If you weren’t at Operators earlier this year, I have no use for you.
Talent buyer and bad ass drummer Cory Stier is a Godsend of a maniac who knows exactly who is culturally important in regard to innovative artistry. Dude is like the Theo Epstein of music. Without him, we wouldn’t have Computer Magic or Colleen Green stepping through the doors of the best concert venue in our burrito inundated city. Soda Bar’s importance lies in its cultural and artistic immediacy: The venue organizes a respectful and intimate dialog between musicians and audiences. It’s one of the few places I’ve been where community, perceptive understanding, and freedom of expression unite seamlessly. There are rarely taurine-soaked bros taking bites out of beer cans like Matt Dillon in “Platoon”. Soda Bar’s clientele is typically comprised of like-minded and respectful crowds. And you may even see random rad bands, that aren’t even playing, outside of SB’s doors (sup, Dilly Dally).
As a D-list journalist in San Diego, I’ve been lucky enough to be able to cover a litany of fantastic artists between shots of Jameson. Hot tip: If a band is playing and you’re ordering a drink, write what you want on your phone and show it to the bartender. It saves time, and they’ll appreciate the gesture. Hot tip 2: Don’t bully your way to the front of the stage while a band is performing just to talk to your friend Greg about the time he kick flipped over an Arby’s bag in Pacific Beach. Get your shit together. Hot tip 3: Buy vinyl and cassette tapes at the merchandise table. Hot tip 4: If you’re taller than a NBA D-leaguer, and have a Dr. Seuss-sized hat on, stand where you’re not blocking everyone’s view, you goddamn Babadook. Hot tip 5: Don’t try to “help” a band move their instruments or equipment. I’ve seen this happen, and unless you want your favorite artist to turn into Final Fantasy villain, give them space to operate.
Anyway, if you see me at a show, make sure to say hi. Unless I’m vibing hard to Screaming Females. In that case, it can wait. Leave me a comment on Facebook or something instead. All pledge fealty to your favorite venue.