“What’s the point of living in San Diego if all you kids do is sit inside and stare at screens?”
It’s a frequent refrain in my house. I was dumb enough to buy all those electronic doodads, but that doesn’t mean I have to surrender to them. We’re going outside, together, and we’re going to hear some music that doesn’t come from an earbud.
“I always choose a venue that puts me near the ocean,” said my friend Cherie, pointing me toward the monthly Green Flash Concert Series at the Birch Aquarium in La Jolla (858-534-FISH). “They transform their outdoor tidepool plaza into an outdoor music venue. You get panoramic ocean views, the San Diego sunset, and live music all together. It’s a great, great spot,” she gushed. Craig at the Aquarium explained that they “build the stage over the tidepool area for the band. It’s a 21-and-up show; they’ll be selling beer and wine plus food — snacks like cheese and crackers, and also entrées like Thai chicken noodle salad and paninis. The show is standing room only, but we can accommodate those with disabilities and provide a chair.” Tickets are $30.95 for aquarium members, and $35.95 for the general public. Concerts run 6:30–9:30, but doors open at 5:30, and your ticket gets you access to the aquarium proper. August’s artist will be L.A. indie-pop band Milo Greene, with the Verigolds opening.
My friend Mary Ann shared Cherie’s enthusiasm for water proximity. “I love the San Diego Symphony, and always try to get to at least one of their Bayside concerts at Embarcadero Park South. Some of the shows have fireworks attached.” (Check online.) August 4–5 features smoky crooner Boz Scaggs with the San Diego Symphony Orchestra — plus fireworks. Also upcoming: Sergio Mendes and the Latin Jazz Masters. And for the family, there will be a screening of E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial with a live orchestra performance. Ticket prices start at $28 for lawn seating and $47 if you want a chair, and go up from there.
“The Vans Warped Tour comes to town August 5th,” urged my 19-year-old. “They have, like, 70 different bands on all these stages at Qualcomm Stadium. Last time, I went to see the Barb Wire Dolls and Creeper.”
For his sake, I checked prices: $40 general admission, $50 for a 3D Collector’s Edition ticket.
Closer to home and much, much lower key, I found that Sheldon’s Service Station in La Mesa (619-741-8276) has free live music on their outdoor patio on Saturdays and Sundays. “Usually, it’s things like acoustic guitar or flute,” said one of the servers. “But last week, we had someone playing a box drum.”
I liked the sound of free and looked to hold to that price point. This August, the Coronado Promenade Summer Concert Series features bands such as Missy Andersen and the Southland Soul, the Navy Band Southwest, and the Surf City All-Stars. Concerts are at 6 p.m. on Sundays; no smoking, dogs, or barbecues allowed.
Back on the mainland, Balboa Park’s Twilight in the Park Summer Concert Series is held from 6:30–7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday evenings on the Spreckels Organ Pavilion stage. Swing bands, an Elvis tribute, Latin salsa, rock ’n’ roll, and military bands will perform. It’s family friendly; bring a picnic and the kids.
The crowd at the Point Loma Park Concert Series occasionally tops 3000, so to make it easier on concertgoers, there is free parking at All Souls Episcopal Church and a free shuttle that runs from 5:30–8:45 p.m. Soda and cookies for sale onsite, along with a healthy dose of free nostalgia. August 4 brings you Cashed Out, the Johnny Cash tribute band. And August 11 offers Beatles vs. Stones. Bring chairs and blankets for seating, and jackets for the evening cool. For the younger at heart, the junior stage will feature two youth bands each night, starting at 5 p.m.
The Santee Summer Concert Series looks to match its musical variety with the culinary kind, bringing in a different food truck for each concert. (The beer garden, however, is a constant, as is the free parking.) Look for trucks such as Chick-fil-a, Chubby’s, Maui Wowi, New York on Rye, and Tacos Picasso while you listen to musical styles from reggae to country.