Special to Mustang News
Reggae-rock bands Pepper and Lionize turned up the volume at SLO Brewing Co. this past Friday night.
During the show, Pepper said both bands played at Warped Tour in 2011 and they all felt a strong connection.
“They were very gracious hosts, and we got along together,” Lionize lead vocalist and guitarist Nate Bergman said. “When they invited us to go on tour with them, it made sense.”
Lionize woke up the crowd and stirred up the energy early on in the show.
Bergman infused the crowd with passion as he sang “If you could just throw me a bone,” as the crowed cheered and shouted, “Hell, yeah.”
Keyboardist Chris Brooks got the crowd clapping and dancing with his solo. Bassist and vocalist Henry Upton joined in, and soon enough, every musician poured every ounce of passion into their instruments. The notes and crowd grew louder and louder until SLO Brew seemed as if it was going to explode … and then it stopped.
The tempo quieted and slowed. Brooks took a sip of water, and Bergman wiped the sweat accumulating on this forehead, looked up, took a deep breath and yelled, “If you could just throw me a bone” — and the crowd and band went wild again.
After approximately 20 minutes of waiting, headlining band Pepper walked on stage and the crowd went crazy upon hearing the first few chords of “Bring Me Along.”
When the trio strummed the first few chords to its famous “Give It Up,” the beat was familiar, but the intensity of the song was absent, prompting fans to scream, “Play it faster, louder!”
Pepper acted innocently as vocalist and bassist Bret Bollinger asked, “But this is supposed to be a sensitive song, right?”
The crowd screamed in protest and, at last, the notes grew louder and everyone screamed in unison, “Why don’t you have some dirty, hot sex with me?”
The energy in SLO Brew grew, the fans and band fed off each other and the dancing became wilder.
But as the middle of the dance floor was slowly transforming into a mosh pit — and with a warning look from security — Pepper decided to bring the tempo down a notch.
Bollinger soothed the crowd with his carefree tone and simple words, “Relax, it’s Friday,” as they hit the reset button.
“Now I see why you guys are the happiest fucking town in America,” vocalist and guitarist Kaleo Wassman said.
During another break, the band asked to switch the lights off for a moment as they searched for dim cellphone lights. One lone cellphone was found.
“This is why I love SLO: There’s only one asshole with his phone on,” Bollinger said. “Thank you, SLO, for being fucking musical.”
Pepper jammed for more than an hour, playing mostly old hits with only a few songs from its latest album, and left the stage while the crowd boomed with cries of protest.
The band walked back on stage shortly after it exited.
The trio gave the fans three more songs, ended with “F**k Around (All Night)” and left the stage with Wassman’s final words: “Thank you everyone for giving three fucking Hawaii boys the best job in the world.”
Pepper went outside after the show and Wassman was surrounded by swarms of fans — mostly dreamy-eyed women — asking for autographs and pictures.
Pepper’s love for San Luis Obispo was apparent throughout the show, and when asked why, Wassman responded: “Because we have our deepest roots in this place. In 1999 no one would give us a gig, and this place gave us our first one.”