A Tale of Two Block Parties | Recappin' the SoCal Music Festival and StreetBeat KPRI Block Party 2

Top: Vokab Kompany
Bottom: Jakob Dylan
September 11, 2012

Two weekends. Two concerts. Two different areas of downtown San Diego closed off to accommodate the scene. While Labor Day weekend's SoCal Music Festival was hyped to the max and bumping with varied vibes in the East Village, KPRi's StreetBeat Block Party was subdued, civilized and intimate in Little Italy. Both were awesome times, mainly because we love great music and the illusion of freedom that comes from being able to drink alcohol while roaming about the streets of America's Finest City.

The SoCal Music Festival was more than just music.  For me, highlights of the day included riding bumper cars as the sun set over San Diego, playing the classic NBA Jam arcade game ("He's on Fire!!!") and getting plastic-burn (think rug burn but from vinyl) on my elbows from the giant slide at the Vavi Interactive Zone.

Watching the skateboarders on the half pipe was rather entertaining; meanwhile, the Spinning Psychedelic SoCal Flower was extremely underwhelming and no where near 25 feet high, in my humble estimation.  But here's to art, right?!  There were plenty of reasonably priced food offerings around the festival, and we were amazed by the value in the beverages offered: Corona's were $5 ($4 in VIP) and mixed drinks were $7 ($6 in VIP).  Not too shabby for a street fest!

Vokab Kompany
We spent most of the day at the Sun Stage, as the Ocean Stage was all techno-type music and the Evolution Stage was all dub step - neither of which we really enjoy.   We're a bit old for the Ocean Stage music, but it was packed all night with ravers donning 3D glasses over their dilated pupils (no judging!). It appeared as though there was a helluva lot of fun to be had in that area...if you know the right people...if you know what I mean.

Sooo SoCal!
As for the musical performances: though Cold War Kids were the big seller and made us gleefully happy with their song 'Hang Me Up To Dry,' the top performance of the concert was by hometown favorites, Vokab Kompany, who had a riveting, energetic and visually entertaining set.  They even brought out a belly dancer who impressed onlookers with her hypnotic moves and balancing abilities.

Speaking of moves, there were scantily clad, provocative dancers atop elevated pedestals scattered all around the show, which was decidedly distracting (as you can see).

The SoCal Music Festival was a great addition to the McFarlane Promotions' downtown street fest circuit, and we hope it returns for many years to come.

The StreetBeat KPRi Block Party 2 was sponsored by 102.1 KPRi and Anthology and featured performances by headliners Walk the Moon, Tristan Prettyman, and The Wallflowers. The event took place on the 1300 block of India Street, in front of co-host Anthology, where, in between acts, participants were invited in for food, drinks, and other musical performances.  We didn't make it to the show until the end of Tristan Prettyman's set, but we had time to walk around and check out the scene before the final performers, The Wallflowers, took the stage.

Unlike the SoCal Festival, the StreetBeat Block Party was all about the music.  There was reserved seating centered, and concert goers gathered closely on the side of the stage for what was a very intimate experience.  SoCals quintessential food trucks, including local favorite Thai-1-On, offered sustenance to hungry patrons.  We were stage-side as The Wallflowers' front-man Jakob Dylan arrived and departed and where crowds of giddy young women clamored for his attention.

The Wallflowers set improved as Dylan's voice warmed up and the sound guy fixed the volume of the vocals, allowing his melodically enchanting voice to fill the night's sky.  Like many children of legendary celebrities who choose to follow the path of the parent, Jakob will always be compared to his father; and, being that he looks and sounds so much like him, its impossible to avoid making a comparison.  Like his father, he has a softer voice suited better for studio recordings or smaller venues than for outdoor performances or large arenas, but he unleashed during his rendition of "One Headlight," which was certainly the peak of the performance: everyone was dancing, singing, smiling and rejoicing in Bob's legacy.

We ended up departing the show alongside Dylan and the rest of the band on the quiet and shadowy sidewalks of Little Italy, and being a product of the 90s and a big fan of Dylan's solo works, it may have been more exhilarating than seeing him play. 

We really appreciated the low key, relaxed vibe of the StreetBeat Block Party, and discovered that Anthology is in fact an amazing venue for live shows.  Although it was a gorgeous evening, I do wish that The Wallflowers played in the acoustics-friendly Anthology...and that Jakob played some songs off of his solo album, "Women and Country."  Next time, Jakob?