3 Nights with Pepper

By: sandieganliz Photos By: Courtney Pakalolo

It was Wednesday, November 17th; Pepper was in San Diego, CA. I was waiting for their performance, which would take place at the Belly Up Tavern, and was looking forward to seeing them for the next two days at the House of Blues in Downtown. My plan was to go to all three shows. That’s how much I love this band! The Belly Up show was sold out, but I had won free tickets. To top it off, tonight’s show was going to be streamed live on the internet. Wow, it was going to be incredible!

Around 9 p.m., I arrived in Solana Beach. Groups of young people were roaming the avenue. I got my tickets and headed inside with my guy. The place was crowded! A nurse was handing out 3-D glasses; Pepper was going to show off their new 3-D video of “Drunk Girl,” a track off their latest EP, Stitches.

After a shot of tequila, my guy and I grabbed our beers and headed to the floor. Fishbone was playing and pumping up the crowd! Horns, guitars, and all kinds of “heads” were on stage. People were dancing and grooving to Fishbone’s unique ska/rock/jazz sound.

After a while, the “Drunk Girl” video came on. I put on my 3-D glasses and went crazy just from hearing the song start! “It’s been a long time now, since I’ve seen you around….” – such a good song! It starts off slow with Yesod, the drummer, tapping on the snare, and then transitions into that fast tempo mode.  The video was good, showing footage of the audience from shows and the Kona boys playing their instruments. The style reminded me of the skate videos I used to see in the 90s.

Then, Pepper came out! The crowd cheered! Guys did the infamous Pepper sign with their hands, girls screamed, and a voice from the back of the stage addressed the crowd: “Doctor, doctor!” The “Like a Surgeon” Tour had arrived in San Diego. Right before the start of this tour, Pepper announced they were going to mix up their playlist. They sure did! Older, well-loved songs such as “Stormtrooper”, “Love Affair”, and “Sitting on the Curb” caused uproar in the audience. However, it wasn’t as loud as I thought the fans would get. What was wrong here at this sold out show? Did Pepper choose the wrong songs? Any hardcore Pepper fan would jump with joy at the live performance of these classic songs. I was the only one in my area jumping up and down. I should have gone to the center of the floor where the action seemed to be, but at one point, two men started arguing and almost caused a fight. The fans eventually jumped up and down, but only to “No Control” and “Give It Up”, which was towards the end of the evening. Now, I know these two songs; they are the only ones on the Billboard charts. Did the fans of Solana Beach only care for popular hits? Most Pepper fans I meet like all kinds of songs from the nine albums out. I was shocked!

Somewhat disappointed the day after their first show, I wondered if their show at the House of Blues was going to be better. I planned on going with no expectations. I didn’t feel like the band disappointed in Solana Beach; I think the crowd just wasn’t pumped up or didn’t care for old songs. I mean, people gave me looks for jumping up and down while they quietly stood there and watched!

Seven o’clock approached on the evening of Thursday, November 18th. I was dressed as a nurse since the tour encouraged people to dress up like a doctor or nurse. However, I didn’t dress up for the Belly Up show because it was more of a birthday celebration. But this time, sure, I’ll dress up for the Pepper boys! I love them, their vibe, and their music; I’ll show my support! Now, all I was doing was waiting for Nurse Ashley to show up. She was on the guest list, plus one. Yes, here we go!

At 8:30 p.m., Ashley called me saying she didn’t know if she was going to make it, but to go check if my name was on the list. It wasn’t, and I was in costume! I went to the bar of the restaurant and had a drink.  I continued to wait for her because she said there was still a possibility she could make it. Time passed, and I went back outside toward the box office for a smoke break. As I talked to people in the crowd—particularly to those whom admired my nurse outfit, a girl told me she had an extra ticket! “Are you sure,” I asked. She nodded and said, “Don’t worry about it.” I went inside and Pepper was already playing. The crowd wasn’t too big, but big enough to fill the main floor, and was mostly made up of youngsters in their mid to upper teens. I felt a little out of place because I was the only one dressed up and the crowd was slightly younger than me. I scoped out the place and saw a fellow nurse. Her name was Angela and she orchestrates announcements and contests for fans to dress up. She wanted me to meet the band, but I lost her after she went backstage. As I continued to roam the crowd and jam out (again) to the live performance, I noticed this young crowd was very enthusiastic. Girls were jumping up and down in their Pepper tank-tops, both guys and girls were screaming and/or yelling, and people sang along to a majority of the songs. This crowd was pumped to see and hear Pepper!

After this all-ages show ended, people came up to me and asked if I got to meet the band for dressing up, and expressed how they wanted to meet the band, but were waiting for their parents to pick them up. These kids were full of adrenaline from the show! Ahh…fresh, young Pepper fans!

November 19th –The last day of the tour!
I arrived at the House of Blues at 8:00p.m., once again, dressed up as a Pepper nurse, but this time, in heels! I was ready to rock it! Ashley was meeting me in a little bit and I met up with Nurse Angela again. She bought me a drink while I listened to and watched Pour Habit. They are a punk-rock, reggae band from Los Angeles. They truly bring out the punk music! I wanted to mash it on the floor, but I was in heels and dressed in white! Ashley arrived and looked great in her nurse outfit, equipped with a red Pepper sticker on the chest. Were we noticeable or what? Well, so was another fan dressed up as a nurse. I discovered her name was Alida and that all of us were going to meet the band. Wooooo!

Kaleo, Bret, and Yesod are nice guys — very down to earth and funny. They took pictures with us and signed about 8 posters. I was like, “what are we supposed to do with the extras?” Kaleo replied, “Whatever you want.” Ok…I see where this is going…we’re hot Pepper nurses with signed posters – these boys want us to be as giving as they are. I’ve seen how they throw gifts to fans! Let’s do this! Ashley and I went back out to the crowd. She went one way and I went the other. People looked at me like I was a crazy fan holding up two posters when I was already dressed as a nurse. Wasn’t I supporting them enough by dressing up? Finally, a girl asked me what I was holding up. I told her, “Just two signed posters from the band for the ‘biggest’ fans.” She immediately grabbed one! The last two of our posters were given to a couple of guys in the middle of the general area, who snatched it from other fans that were aiming for them after we announced we had two signed posters up for grabs. We took pictures with some people (hey, we’re Pepper nurses!) and soon after, we were getting pushed around as if a mosh pit was forming, but before the music started!

Finally, Pepper performed for their last night as surgeons. Pepper busted out “Too Much” first, which is a great song live! Kaleo does an amazing job playing the electric guitar for that song. Other songs were “Crazy Love”, “Wanted”, “Stone Love”, and “Point and Shoot”, which is a classic live song, among the others mentioned before. An encore had taken place for each show and Pepper ended each night with “Ashes.” This time they started the song with, “We don’t want to goooooo!” All sets were long and energized – a treat for any diehard Pepper fan! I mean, come on, they headlined this tour!

My flurry of nights with Pepper is most-memorable. Not only did I meet them and dress up as a nurse for them, but I got to hear classic Pepper songs from older albums – my favorites being: “Stone Love”, “Stormtrooper”, and “Love Affair.” I also loved hearing their latest songs “Drunk Girl” and “Mirror”, and the popular songs “Give It Up” and “No Control”. These songs moved all three crowds! Perhaps Solana Beach needed a different playlist, but for the last nights of their tour, these Kona boys captivated San Diego by Storm!!!

bringing you that fire! stay tune for more posts.

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