Reality was flipped on its head this past weekend as I walked from my 5-Fulton bus stop down Market and Sixth. A group I haven’t witnessed since my last trip home to So Cal replaced the usual combination of homeless and druggies. Throngs of boys and girls in board shorts and sandals lined the street, despite the cold weather, awaiting the doors of The Warfield to open.
Pepper, a three-piece pop reggae band out of Hawaii, was headlining that night, and anyone part of the beach scene in San Francisco, a group I was unaware existed, seemed to be there. While security outside cracked down on those trying to sneak in suspicious water bottles the smell of marijuana was already remarkably prominent.
I immediately realized my sad attempt at wearing a plaid jacket to fit in was not working, and the only reason I was at all accepted by these warm-weather clad kids was because of the giant camera that hung around my neck indicating that I was there for press matters only. As I walked through the venue I was met with questionable looks, which caused me to question my own attendance. The truth was that Pepper and I had a long history together, and I’d been a fan of them since middle school. While my love of them had died out somewhere around my junior year of high school, every now and again I’d hear one of their songs and be taken back to those good ol’ days. The idea of seeing Pepper live was something I couldn’t pass up.
The crowd was dense within, and all seemed ecstatic when Pepper opened with one of their more popular songs, Give It Up. While both subject matter and lyrics bordered on vulgar, those in attendance couldn’t care less as they happily belted out the words along with bassist Bret Bollinger and guitarist Kaleo Wasman.
After concluding their first song of the set, Bollinger and Wasman took the time to have a conversation with the crowd. After asking how many people were either high or drunk, they cheered about how many hot girls were in attendance. The crowd confirmed the bands sentiment by either yelling loudly or letting out bellows of marijuana smoke into the air. My heart dropped at this point. My middle school days were full of petty crushes and sleepovers, not sex and drugs, which seemed to be all that the band cared about.
About six songs into the set I left the show disheartened. My happy memories about such a simpler time had been challenged. On my ride home I realized I couldn’t blame the band for my discontent. It wasn’t their fault I associated them with my pre-teen days, but I couldn’t help but feel remorse. My happy-go-lucky sentiments about what used to be were finished, and it only took one song.