So I stopped in Santa Barbara to see one of my favourite bands before catching a flight to New Zealand. I didn’t really know what to expect about Santa Barbara or the venue I would be seeing them in, and both aspects were incredible.
Santa Barbara is a beautiful, small Californian city. I tried to take in as much as I could in three days, starting with State St., Stearns Warf and walking Cabrillo Boulevard all the way down to the East Beach volleyball courts. Since I had only ever been to San Francisco and Larkspur in California, I wasn’t sure how different it would be, and it definitely has it’s own personality. There are a ton of great Mexican places to eat at. I tried two (El Torito and Taqueria El Bajio) and both were delicious. Los Agaves came highly recommended, but unfortunately I didn’t have time to try that place.
While in Santa Barbara I stayed at the AAE hostel. I think there is another hostel in town, but this one was much easier to find. Either way, it was about $45 a night, which is a bit pricey for a hostel, but much more affordable than a motel or hotel. The staff were so incredibly friendly that I would definitely recommend the place to others. The facilities were pretty good, but it’s a fairly small hostel, so if someone was using the lower level shower, the upper level lacked water pressure, but it made up for it in other aspects, such as in-room lockers, fee wifi, a great deck area, and free all you can eat pancakes in the morning. State Street and the beach are within walking distance, and the bus stop is right across the street.
The bar is located in the heart of the city right on State Street. The area really comes alive at nightfall, especially on a Friday. Doors of shops, restaurants and bars are open and people are eating, drinking, laughing, walking, talking everywhere you look. I wish I had that street in my city!
Velvet Jones is fairly small, which, in my opinion, is the best way to see a band. It has two levels, so the top is perfect for people watching in between band setups or if you don’t want to be down in the crowd. There’s a large bar and the staff were quick to get everyone’s drinks in between bands. Once the bands were playing, I found it pretty easy to make my way right up to the front to catch all the action. They also had a macaroni and cheese stand in the bar, I didn’t try it, but it smelled very cheesy and delicious.
And of course the headliners who I went to see, Mad Caddies, played an awesome set. Some great old tunes and some new ones too. I was up at the front for most of the show and ended up leaving with a set list, pretty exciting! They had a super energetic local band called The Olés open first, and the crowd was loving them. They had such a good vibe going on, and their ska/hip-hop style was great to see live. It was awesome to be in a bar on the west coast hearing a ska band do a cover of 2Pac’s “California Love”! The other opening band was Ill Scarlet, who happen to be from my neck of the woods. The crowd really got into them with some mosh pitting, which was good, since they said it was their first time there.
All in all, the decision to make a stop in California was well-worth it and I would do it again in a heartbeat!! Seeing a band solo was actually pretty good too. I stood right beside the stage, and was able to make my way through the crowd pretty easily.