Concert Review: The Expanders, Stephen Marley, NOFX and Slightly Stoopid
The Expanders, Stephen Marley, NOFX, Slightly Stoopid
Sleep Train Amphitheatre
July 26, 2014
Slightly Stoopid just finished their first leg of their 2014 Summer Sessions Tour, and they decided to finish it off in Chula Vista, San Diego, which for all intents and purposes, is a hometown show. This year, they took some artists on the road with them including Reggae band The Expanders, Jamaican star Stephen Marley, and the punk rock band NOFX. It would be a good show, as the weather permitted plenty of tailgating before doors opened. When the doors finally did open, it wasn’t long before The Expanders took the stage at 5:30PM.
Keeping in mind that the doors had just opened thirty minutes prior to the first band taking the stage, there were very few people in attendance at the moment. Nevertheless, The Expanders thanked everyone for showing up early, and started their set. To those familiar with Reggae music, the band’s sound brings back the nostalgic memories of old-school reggae. The band harmonized with their members throughout the songs and even included the traditional organ sound that was so prevalent in old school reggae. The first couple of songs were mostly slower songs. The Expanders then dived into a faster paced song off of their self-titled album, “Moving Along.” That’s exactly what the few people in the pit started doing to show their approval for the band’s change in tempo. Near the end of their set, they got the crowd a bit excited by singing a song about sensimilla, which based on the lyrics, could be titled, “I’m An Addict.” The highlight of this band’s set was without a doubt their last song, “Something Wrong.” Although this song is consistent with the slower tempo the band used throughout the whole set, it was something about the harmony during the chorus that captivated the crowd in a way that wasn’t achieved before. It’s songs like these that have the potential to catapult this band to a level of fame that’s associated with the quality of the song they chose to close their set with. It was a short set, but The Expanders set the tone for the next reggae artist to take the stage, Stephen Marley.
In a quick turnaround, the crew had quickly set up the centerpiece of the next band, the drum set. This drum set featured the head of a lion plated in gold that took the place of the bass drum. With a variety of Rastafarian flags and the red, gold, and green displayed ubiquitously throughout the stage, it seemed like Stephen Marley felt comfortable stepping out a few moments later to begin his set. With him were a duo of female vocalists that harmonized throughout the songs, as well as a small child that was given the task of incessantly waving a big Rastafarian flag during the show. Stephen Marley knew that the crowd was expecting him to sing some of the songs that made his father famous, so he decided to give the crowd just that. He opened with a cover of “Punky Reggae Party,” which was made famous by the Reggae legend, Bob Marley. He followed that song with another cover, “Is This Love.” These songs caused the crowd to go wild. Most of the fans in attendance were too young to ever see Bob Marley live, so watching his son play some of the more famous songs live was everything a young reggae fan could ask for. After Stephen Marley successfully got the crowd going, the band went into a faster paced song that featured a catchy sax riff and cowbell titled, “Hold on to That Feeling.” The band finished off their set with a song called, “Celebration,” and by this point, Stephen Marley had given the fans a reason to celebrate reggae music that day. The crowd by this point made no hesitation to sing along loudly, and that was exactly the kind of energy that was needed for the next band that would take the stage, NOFX.
In a strange turn of events, the reggae that was played during the first two hours of the show failed to mellow out the people enough for NOFX’s set. When the band came on, it was clear that the show could either take a turn for the worst, or for the best. The very first thing the singer and bassist, “Fat Mike,” said into the microphone, was, “I was just told by the Slightly Stoopid guys that all you people in the grass can come on down (to the pit).” No other words were needed to get the crowd roaring with excitement as multitudes of people started to bum rush their way to the pit from the lawn area. Security was in a panic; vastly outnumbered and facing drunken multitudes of punk rockers, multiple brawls erupted and security had to quickly call in reinforcements. It was too late; the damage was done! The pit was packed to capacity, and the punk rock show could now begin. They started off their set with a hit off of the album, The Greatest Songs Ever Written (By Us) titled, “Dinosaurs Will Die.” The song that followed was, “Murder the Government.” These tunes irrevocably caused the pit to mosh with a furor that no one would have expected given the nature of the two bands that opened the show. At one point, even the band’s possy backstage decided that there wasn’t enough moshing going on on-stage, so they jumped into the crowd from the stage area. It’s safe to say that these folks were probably too intoxicated to calculate the amount of space they needed to jump to be able to land safely in the crowd. Without going into too much detail, some made it, and some didn’t; that just happens at a punk rock show. NOFX finished off their set with “Bottles to the Ground,” and by then, the crowd was grinning from ear to ear after having unleashed the energy that not even they knew they had in them. During this time though, it was unfortunate to say, that security’s ego was bruised so bad that they decided to comb through the pit for people without wristbands so that they could kick them out of the pit, and subsequently, the venue. By the time Slightly Stoopid took the stage, the venue was half empty, considering that so many people got thrown out during NOFX’s set.
When Slightly Stoopid finally took the stage at around 9PM, they had planned a lot of cool stuff for the survivors who managed not to get thrown out. Slightly Stoopid’s set featured both old and new songs. The first song that got the crowd moving was “Ska Diddy,” off of the band’s most recent album, Top of the World. They followed of that song with the radio friendly single, “Don’t Stop,” from the same album. The crowd that was in the pit used these songs to continue what NOFX had started; the fiery mosh pits. The next song guilty of causing this type of riot was, “Underneath the Pressure,” which was immediately followed by a cover of Nirvana’s “Territorial Pissings.” Chaos in the pit ensued as the mosh pit widened and the speed of the pit escalated to the levels seen during NOFX’s set. Near the middle of the band’s set, the band shook the cobwebs off the old hits. They played “Leaving on a Jetplane,” off of their 2003 album, Everything You Need. They followed with their most famous song, “2AM,” off of their Chronchitis album. The crowd sang along happily, as they were able to regain their energy with these more mellow songs. Shortly before the end of their set, Slightly Stoopid decided to throw a curb ball at the crowd by playing a somewhat western influenced tune called, “Train 1,” off of their album, Slightly Not Stoned Enough to Eat Breakfast Yet Stoopid. Altogether, the band’s versatility in being able to play a variety of genres in one night proves why Slightly Stoopid is one of the best bands to ever come out of America’s Finest City.
For those interested in Slightly Stoopid, it should be noted that Muir Fest is coming up in Ocean Beach August 9th, and coincidentally, Slightly Stoopid’s first label, Skunk Records, will be present in the form of Perro Bravo, which front man and founder, Miguel Happoldt, happens to play in. The sounds are similar, so it’s highly recommended that you show up to this event. Who knows, Slightly Stoopid is from Ocean Beach, and the festival is taking place there, so could it be possible that someone from Slightly Stoopid shows up to play during the set by Skunk Records?