Words & Photos by Alan Snodgrass
The Offspring’s Sabroso Taco Festival has returned to Dana Point, California, expanding this year’s hometown event to a full weekend of beer, tacos and punk rock on the beach. If that wasn’t enough, Mother Nature delivered the perfect weekend weather for it all.
With a line-up that tilted heavily towards SoCal bands, Saturday kicked off with a ripper of a set by D.I. that had the pit roiling early followed by the Adolescents who have chosen to continue to carry with Brad Logan on bass, replacing Steve Soto who passed unexpectedly last year. Sadly, the Adolescents paid little attention to their classic “Blue Album,” with frontman Tony Cadena chalking it up to “respect” for their common genetics with D.I. Still great, but definitely not the same without Soto.
Hailing from Detroit, The Suicide Machines were the first band of the weekend to buck the SoCal theme, proceeding to obliterate the stage with their catchy ska-punk that had frontman Jason Navarro making his way into the crowd to cap off what was one of the highlights of the day. And that’s saying a lot when you’re followed by the likes of Lagwagon, Strung Out, Bad Religion and of course, Saturday’s headliner Flogging Molly whose frontman Dave King pondered whether the Guinness in his hand would be considered a craft beer.
Maybe it was all the free beer samples from Saturday, but Sunday seemed to take a bit to get rolling. Sets by Orange Blossom Special and Red City Radio got the crowd’s attention but Plague Vendor truly set the day on a whole different trajectory. Frontman Brandon Blaine was a dervish on stage and you could hear the crowd collectively gasp over the music whenever he would launch into the air and land in splits. This is a band not to be missed … complete insanity.
Black Flag seemed more of a curiosity-act, with legendary founder/guitarist/curmudgeon Greg Ginn reappearing with skating legend Mike Vallely on vocals for a slowed-down, grunged-up set that thankfully eschewed any tunes from their 2013 release, “What The …” Up next, the Descendents, probably the most universally beloved band on the weekend’s lineup. All smiles taking the stage, they kicked off their 50 minute set with “Suburban Home” that even got the VIP section off their asses and singing and dancing along. I mean, it’s not really possible not to.
If punk rock was not your thing, you weren’t totally out of luck. In addition to the free, all-you-can-sample craft brews, there were plenty of tacos, between-set Luchador wrestling and more tacos which reached a climax before The Offspring’s closing set with a taco eating competition. The stunned crowd watched multiple world record holder Takeru Kobayashi down a whopping 157 tacos in 10 minutes to take the crown. This competition was no joke and those paying careful attention would have seen one of Kobayashi’s competitors get a stuck taco dislodged from his throat using the Heimlich maneuver about 6 minutes in. It was gross hell and not for the faint of heart yet impossible to look away.
The Offspring wrapped up the evening with an hour and ten minute set that cruised through the classics as well as a surprise new tune (“It Won’t Get Better”) before shutting the weekend down at the respectable hour of 9 pm.
Congrats to the Offspring and Sabroso crew for putting together a weekend of good times. It’s not easy to create a chill weekend for thousands of beer drinking, taco eating punkers but they totally nailed it.
Sabroso Taco Festival Day #1
Sabroso Taco Festival Day #2