Hawaiian-bred, reggae-rock trio Pepper will be playing at the California Mid-State Fair in Paso Robles Friday. The band is on tour with alternative rock group 311 and punk rock band The Offspring as a part of The Unity Tour 2010.
The band will play on the Grandstand as a special guest. This marks the third time Pepper has toured with 311.
The Unity Tour package was booked for the Mid-State Fair because there is “clearly an audience for great rock bands like 311 and Pepper. Unlike Aerosmith (who is also playing at the Mid-State Fair), they have a harder-edged, but still solid rock-n-roll sound,” concert promoter Ron Pateras of Jam Productions said.
Jam Productions, an independent concert and special events producer which operates in Chicago, was chosen to book the Mid-State Fair acts.
“We needed to book a diverse mix of genres. It’s a state-run fair so we needed to address the area’s tastes,” Pateras said.
Pateras said 311 and Pepper fit the mold of the laid-back rock-n-roll many people of the Central Coast admire.
“We didn’t have other bands that fit that style,” Pateras said.
Pepper, hailing from The Big Island of Hawaii, has been working on new material which is being released from their own label, LAW Records. The label, which the band started in 2007, also manages popular Santa Barbara-based band Iration, who also hails from Hawaii. The band hopes to finish up building a studio for all of the bands to use once Pepper is done taking time off from touring. The label also wants to tour Hawaii in mid-December with Pepper as the headliner.
Pepper started playing its first shows in Santa Barbara while hanging out in Isla Vista with friends who lived there.
In addition to other past shows on the Central Coast, Pepper also played at the end of Week of Welcome in September 2008.
Wine and viticulture junior and fan Marissa Monarrez attended the show.
“People were crowd-surfing. It was pretty intense. It was packed, it was super hot and people were really into it so they were standing up and moshing,” Monarrez said. “Pepper was so full of energy. They had good crowd interaction.”
The fans give Pepper its constant on-stage energy, Pepper drummer, Yesod Williams, said.
“If it wasn’t for them giving us the energy, we wouldn’t have that energy. It’s an exchange,” Williams said.
Perhaps the energy of the Cal Poly audience was due to the popularity of reggae-infused bands.
Monarrez said the popularity of this genre with Cal Poly students is a part of the Californian coastal lifestyle.
“I think being close to the beach and that kind of scene helps a lot. It’s so laidback,” Monarrez said.
Fruit science sophomore Ewen Hungerford describes Pepper’s sound as similar to ska-punk-reggae band Sublime.
“They’re like non-roots reggae-rock,” Hungerford said. “It’s not true reggae, or roots reggae, but they do incorporate it into their music.”
Once in Paso Robles, the tour will wind down after a month-long run that took the bands through the states. The tour kicked off in Fairbanks, Alaska on June 18 and will come to an end on the West Coast.
“It’s been great. It’s a good way to get our feet wet because we haven’t toured in eight or nine months,” Williams said. Pepper plans on embarking on a longer tour later this year.
Even with all the traveling, the three bands find time to fire up their barbecues, light fireworks and hang out after a show before they visit a new city. Then they do the same thing all over again, Williams said.
Pepper is promoting two new singles just recently released on iTunes, called “Wake Up” and “Mirror.” The two songs are available in a one-package deal for 99 cents. The band is planning on releasing more songs in a month or so, Williams said.
Pepper will also release a new full-length album sometime next year, Williams said. This will mark a follow-up to 2008’s “Pink Crustaceans and Good Vibrations.”
“Our sound is more unified. It’s more collaborative,” Williams said. “There’s a better vibe all around.”
Besides the laidback grooves of Pepper, Mid-State Fair attendees can also expect performances by pop singer Justin Bieber, comedian and ventriloquist Jeff Dunham, alternative rock band Weezer, country artists Kenny Loggins, Keith Urban and Toby Keith, rocker Sammy Hagar, Aerosmith and more.
The Mid-State Fair ends Aug. 1. Tickets for the concert range from $25 to $70. The show begins at 7:30 p.m.