Although the drive from LA to Chula Vista would be just over 120 miles, pretty manageable, Beafvy had designs on sampling the wares at a couple breweries north of San Diego before the show, so we didn't dilly dally getting out of town. Stopped for evil chicken sandwiches near USC then got on the road, stopping briefly along the way for coffee and delicious donuts (best apple fritter I've ever eaten) at Surfin' Donuts in San Clemente.
I may have taken exception to some of Beafvy's behavior the previous evening, but that's nothing that a couple flights worth of beer samplers can't soothe. He's the resident Jalepzerz beer-ficianado, so I'll let him take over briefly here.
For our standard “tour within the tour” of local breweries, we hit the Claremont area of San Diego, which had at least 4 craft breweries spotted by us during the drive within a several block radius.
Started off at Societe, which was rated a 98 by beer advocate and definitely justified the ranking. The highlights were the Apprentice and the Pupil, both 7.5% ABV IPAs. The Apprentice was a true standout, with a great resinous, hoppy west coast IPA quality with all of your standard tropical fruit flavors. A great blend of hoppiness and flavor made these beers competitive with ANY west coast IPA I’ve ever tried. Also enjoyed was the Butcher Double Stout, which was just a nice smooth milk chocolate bomb. Societe also poured some pretty quaffable Belgian beers.
After Societe, and after some directional miscues by me, we made it over to Council, which was set in what appeared to be an office shopping center. Council featured a law and government theme with gavels for tap handles and we sampled some very nice beers in a calm, chill setting with very friendly staff and fellow patrons. Highlights here would be the Pirate’s Breakfast double Oatmeal stout, the Bully Pulpit IPA and a nice Porter. Whereas Societe was a tad “proud” of their establishment, while not overwhelmingly so, Council doesn’t take itself too seriously and has a very nice vibe.
We checked into our hotel and I attempted a brief nap while Beafvy wandered out to buy beers for post-show. Arrived at the venue lot before dusk, fortunately parking just a few short rows from shakedown, where we'd spend the next couple of hours before going in. I had attended the previous show at Chula Vista with Bricer (my first California show ever) in July 2003, when it was named the Coors Amphitheater, and I'd forgotten that the lot is apparently adjacent to a water park.
Shakedown was really fun and comfortable if very dusty. Again, just as at the Forum, there was no food vending, but everything else seemed to be in abundance. We randomly hung out with some fellow East Coast kids, sharing stories and generally laughing like jackasses for about 20 minutes before realizing that they were the same group who were so eager to take a pic of my Fuego / Fireball shirt the previous night, haha.
After one last trip back to the car to make sure we remembered where we were parked (smartest thing we've ever done; we'd probably still be stomping around that dusty-ass parking lot if we hadn't), we headed into the venue. On this night, we had great seats in section 103, four rows from each other, extreme Page side. Although our seats were singles, we doubted that we'd have much trouble sitting next to each other with the show likely being undersold (we were right). Much to our delight, we noticed a couple members of SteelCrew from Boston sitting just a few rows ahead of us. Great stuff, because we'd hoped to run into them preshow but hadn't.
The first set started relatively early, just a couple minutes after 8, with much of the crowd still filtering in during the "Devotion" opener, a tour debut. (I have to say that I'm pleased that they've dialed back the overplaying of the Fuego tunes thus far on Fall Tour, although the absence of "Monica" is somewhat troubling.) The first set continued with standard, enjoyable versions of several first set classics, such as "Bag," "Moma," "Halley's" and "Bitch." "Wolfman's" was easily the improvisational highlight of the first set, with a slow, funky groove and some fireworks late.
The rest of the set continued with a "Destiny" bustout (yay! My personal pre-tour pick for bustout I'd most like to see!), which got very funky before a somewhat awkward transition by Mike into the final verses. My first "Tela" *ever* after 137 shows knocked my "most common unseen" song off the top of my wishlist; at this point "Sweet Adeline" is the most commonly played song that seems plausible to return (last played in 2011). I'd forgotten how beautiful this song can be. "Timber" is always nice, then "Wingsuit" shuts the set down after Trey's dramatic solo.
So, a fun first set, if a little bit chomper-y. Our enjoyment of the set was amplified by the enthusiasm of some of our seat neighbors (including an adorable mom-dad-two young daughters family who gleefully danced in the aisle), our proximity to the stage, and the absolutely perfect showtime weather.
On to set 2. "Free" opened things up, and I had big (if ultimately unreasonable) hopes for the first extended version of 3.0. With "Theme" getting similar treatment at SBB2, it seemed plausible, but it wasn't to be. This more or less set the pace for the rest of the set - great, great song selection and overall tight playing, but not much improvisation. I find this similar to the reports I heard from the Seattle show; man, dat setlist, but many truncated versions. I mean, just look at it - "Golden Age" > "Jibboo" > "Carini" > "Piper" came after "Free," and a "Tweezer" > "Rock and Roll" followed by "YEM" seems on paper like a formidable way to end the set, right? We enjoyed this set immensely due to the great song selection, although the "Piper" (really nice peak with great playing by Page) likely contains the only jamming that has true relisten value. Of course, if you're judging a show based solely on that criteria, you're doing it wrong. Fun as frickin' hell, and we left the venue feeling very much satisfied.
Anyway, back to the bustle shakedown post-show for a bit, before getting on the road and retiring to our hotel. With Beafvy flying out at 6 AM, we stayed up and rocked out a bit until he left for the airport at 4 AM. I would be heading back up the coast the following day, with plans to see my friend Andy in LA before picking up Salvador in Pasadena and driving up to San Luis Obispo that night. Time to hit the road!