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Gonzo Report: Santana soothes an anxious audience

Musical healing

Santana slides from screen to stage.
Santana slides from screen to stage.

Santana and Earth Wind & Fire shared the bill on Friday, June 17 at North Island Credit Union Amphitheater in Chula Vista, Ca. Anticipation was high: the concert had been rescheduled from both June 19, 2020, and June 18, 2021.

Getting to the venue on a late Friday afternoon is chore, starting with bobbing and weaving through I-5 South traffic. Finally hit Main Street, only to halt: no movement, traffic backed up. It’s 6:30; the concert is set to start at 7. My friend is worried. My claim that the music most likely will not start until 8 brings momentary relief, which quickly fades. Our concern that we might not have time for parking lot pre-gaming gives way to a real fear that we’ll miss openers Earth Wind & Fire. Passengers start to jump out of their motionless vehicles and walk toward the venue by foot.

At 7:30, we’re finally pulling up to the parking lot, thinking we’re in. Not so fast: here, the line of backed-up cars appears to be at least a mile long. Quite the clusterfuck. By the time we’re ushered to our parking spot, it’s 7:45, and we hurry to get our adult beverages ready for our long walk to the venue. I didn’t pay the $40 extra for VIP parking, so it’s an uneven, dirty, and dusty journey. My black Adidas are soon much lighter, but I have it easy: it’s quite an entertainment to watch women in heels navigate the hazards, and one poor soul’s white cowboy boots turn brown. Given its overpriced concessions, you’d think the people at North Island Credit Union Amphitheater could flip the bill for some asphalt.

When we finally get to the venue, it’s 8:05. I can hear “Boogie Wonderland” floating out from inside. But we are not boogieing; security says that the line loops all around to the parking lot entrances. People who attempt to cut are getting thwarted and sent to the back of the line. It’s so awful that I have to laugh. The couple in front of us is visibly frustrated by the situation, and the woman looks back and says, “I’m glad you think it’s funny, because I don’t!”

“What else can you do?” I reply. Then we all start laughing. Nice people, by the way.

Finally, we make our way to the front… oh wait, its like a Disneyland ride, where you think you’re close but you’re actually not. We have to do two more loops to finally get into the arena. Then, of course, a stop to get more libations. Vodka strawberry lemonade for $22, with a souvenir cup and $19 refills. The narrow aisles almost make a person feel ashamed to get up to go to the bathroom, but I don’t suffer that feeling when it comes to refills.

We finally get to our spot, but there are a couple of t-shirts on my (purchased, assigned) seat. The lady sitting next to it says, “This seat is taken.” I ask my friend if these are our correct assigned seats and am assured that they are. I sit down for Earth Wind & Fire’s last song — “September” — and she tells me again that the seat is taken. I look at her with concern and tell her that these are our purchased, ticketed seats, and the person she’s saving the seat for needs to sit somewhere else. Fortunately for him and her, there is an empty seat in front of her. Still, the whole experience has left me feeling a bit anxious.

Suddenly, the image on the stage screen shifts from the Aurora Borealis to Woodstock, 1969. People chanting, banging on cans like they’re drums. Then Santana’s “Waiting” slips triumphantly from the screen to a live performance. Without blinking an eye, he moves right into “Soul Sacrifice,” “Jin-go-lo-ba,” “Evil Ways.” “Black Magic Woman,” and “Oye como va.” I can feel my earlier frustrations fade away. The guy whose girl tried to “save” my seat pulls out one biggest joints I’ve seen in quite a while. All is well in the universe. I feel healed. As if he knows this, Carlos Santana tells us that he came to heal with the sound of his music.

The music encompasses generations and nationalities with songs such as “Corazon Espinado” and “Maria Maria,” which makes me think of the Mission Valley restaurant formerly owned by the very guy working his magic on the stage as he launches into the closing “Toussaint L ‘Ouverture” — musician and healer Carlos Santana.

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Santana slides from screen to stage.
Santana slides from screen to stage.

Santana and Earth Wind & Fire shared the bill on Friday, June 17 at North Island Credit Union Amphitheater in Chula Vista, Ca. Anticipation was high: the concert had been rescheduled from both June 19, 2020, and June 18, 2021.

Getting to the venue on a late Friday afternoon is chore, starting with bobbing and weaving through I-5 South traffic. Finally hit Main Street, only to halt: no movement, traffic backed up. It’s 6:30; the concert is set to start at 7. My friend is worried. My claim that the music most likely will not start until 8 brings momentary relief, which quickly fades. Our concern that we might not have time for parking lot pre-gaming gives way to a real fear that we’ll miss openers Earth Wind & Fire. Passengers start to jump out of their motionless vehicles and walk toward the venue by foot.

At 7:30, we’re finally pulling up to the parking lot, thinking we’re in. Not so fast: here, the line of backed-up cars appears to be at least a mile long. Quite the clusterfuck. By the time we’re ushered to our parking spot, it’s 7:45, and we hurry to get our adult beverages ready for our long walk to the venue. I didn’t pay the $40 extra for VIP parking, so it’s an uneven, dirty, and dusty journey. My black Adidas are soon much lighter, but I have it easy: it’s quite an entertainment to watch women in heels navigate the hazards, and one poor soul’s white cowboy boots turn brown. Given its overpriced concessions, you’d think the people at North Island Credit Union Amphitheater could flip the bill for some asphalt.

When we finally get to the venue, it’s 8:05. I can hear “Boogie Wonderland” floating out from inside. But we are not boogieing; security says that the line loops all around to the parking lot entrances. People who attempt to cut are getting thwarted and sent to the back of the line. It’s so awful that I have to laugh. The couple in front of us is visibly frustrated by the situation, and the woman looks back and says, “I’m glad you think it’s funny, because I don’t!”

“What else can you do?” I reply. Then we all start laughing. Nice people, by the way.

Finally, we make our way to the front… oh wait, its like a Disneyland ride, where you think you’re close but you’re actually not. We have to do two more loops to finally get into the arena. Then, of course, a stop to get more libations. Vodka strawberry lemonade for $22, with a souvenir cup and $19 refills. The narrow aisles almost make a person feel ashamed to get up to go to the bathroom, but I don’t suffer that feeling when it comes to refills.

We finally get to our spot, but there are a couple of t-shirts on my (purchased, assigned) seat. The lady sitting next to it says, “This seat is taken.” I ask my friend if these are our correct assigned seats and am assured that they are. I sit down for Earth Wind & Fire’s last song — “September” — and she tells me again that the seat is taken. I look at her with concern and tell her that these are our purchased, ticketed seats, and the person she’s saving the seat for needs to sit somewhere else. Fortunately for him and her, there is an empty seat in front of her. Still, the whole experience has left me feeling a bit anxious.

Suddenly, the image on the stage screen shifts from the Aurora Borealis to Woodstock, 1969. People chanting, banging on cans like they’re drums. Then Santana’s “Waiting” slips triumphantly from the screen to a live performance. Without blinking an eye, he moves right into “Soul Sacrifice,” “Jin-go-lo-ba,” “Evil Ways.” “Black Magic Woman,” and “Oye como va.” I can feel my earlier frustrations fade away. The guy whose girl tried to “save” my seat pulls out one biggest joints I’ve seen in quite a while. All is well in the universe. I feel healed. As if he knows this, Carlos Santana tells us that he came to heal with the sound of his music.

The music encompasses generations and nationalities with songs such as “Corazon Espinado” and “Maria Maria,” which makes me think of the Mission Valley restaurant formerly owned by the very guy working his magic on the stage as he launches into the closing “Toussaint L ‘Ouverture” — musician and healer Carlos Santana.

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