Photo: Tommy Guerrero’s psychedelic surf rock performance at SLO Brew Live
Musician and skateboarding legend Tommy Guerrero and his band came to SLO Brew Live for a headlining performance on Tuesday night. The Ragged Jubilee, a local San Luis Obispo rock band, also played an opening set. The evening of live music was intended to help Skate Cambria, a local organization, raise money to fund a new skatepark for the central coast town.
The Ragged Jubilee’s opening set was a high-energy performance of garage rock, driven by heavy drums and lead singer Ethan Burns’ roaring vocals. The band played original songs from their upcoming album, “Mulholland Overdrive,” such as “Poison Blue” and “Forever Be.”
Burns occasionally addressed the audience, but for the most part, The Ragged Jubilee focused on the music. “We’re excited to be here, thanks for listening,” Burns told the audience towards the end of the band’s performance. The Ragged Jubilee ended their 11-song set with “Taxmen.”
As the band packed up after their performance, members of Skate Cambria took the stage. The spokespeople for the organization talked about their work towards bringing a skatepark back to Cambria. In 2020, Cambria’s skatepark was removed without input from community members, according to Skate Cambria’s website. “It’s not okay to take out skateparks,” said one of the spokespeople as she addressed the crowd.
A video made for Skate Cambria played on the stage’s big screen, featuring professional skateboarders such as Steve Caballero, Chrisitan Hosoi and Dave Duncan, who advocated for the construction of a new skatepark. The spokespeople announced that the skatepark is expected to be finished by fall of next year.
Before leaving the stage, the two Skate Cambria spokespeople raffled off some items to raise money, such as knee pads and skateboard decks.
Tommy Guerrero and his band came to the stage shortly after. By then, the crowd had grown and began moving closer to the stage. Shouting out to the audience without a microphone, Guerrero said “I know it’s a school night, thanks for coming out.” Guerrero’s band included three other members on drums, bass and percussion, which primarily consisted of conga drums.
The band’s first song “El camino negro” began with the psychedelic sound of Guerrero’s guitar, before the drums and congas came in to complete the surf rock sound. Behind the band, looping visuals of a car, an animated skateboarder and various patterns played on the big screen, complimenting the reverb-heavy music.
Towards the middle of the set, the band slowed things down with their song “Sun Rays Like Stilts,” which Guerrero described as a lullaby. The energy came back with their next song “At the Circles Edge,” which featured heavier guitars.
Guerrero’s songs were free-flowing, instrumental and seemingly improvised at times. At the end of one of their jams, which Guerrero described as a “bug out,” he said, “You never know what’s gonna happen up here; that’s what keeps it fun, you know?”
After some of his songs, Guerrero stopped to give the audience a brief explanation of his music. One song he wrote 18 years ago calling for an end to war, one was inspired by John Coltrane’s “Alabama,” and another had only been his fifth time playing live in front of an audience.
At the end of the band’s 17-song and nearly 90-minute performance, audience members called for an encore. Guerrero responded saying “It’s late, go to bed.”