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Best San Diego music prospects: Lead Pony, King Whisker, Sandollar, David Orozco

We cup an ear for the future

It’s impossible not to see a certain illumination in David Orozco when you watch him play, whether he’s singing, playing a guitar or bass, or banging on drums — although bass is his main weapon.
It’s impossible not to see a certain illumination in David Orozco when you watch him play, whether he’s singing, playing a guitar or bass, or banging on drums — although bass is his main weapon.

Lead Pony can already spot the Vultures

Psychedelic blues rock has never really gone out of style — not locally, anyway. And now, San Diego is rapidly becoming a hotbed of related “concept albums,” from the space sagas of Angels & Airwaves and Steam Powered Giraffe to Barefoot Hockey Goalie’s rock opera Clairemont. Jesse Hofstee, Hillary Laughery, and Dylan Stallard made their debut on the local scene with the release of their debut Lead Pony EP, Eclipse, and the double-single, “Two Love Songs.” While adding notes to their band page in the Reader’s Local Music Database, I happened to notice they had landed a song on the TV show Shameless. I had just been binge-watching the program, and was wondering who was behind the track. It gave me no small amount of 619 Pride to discover they were a rising local act.

Vultures may be the album that ushers psychedelic blues rockers Lead Pony onto an appreciative national stage.

Bassist Seancarlo Ohlin joined the band last summer, and they began work on what is essentially a narrative musical story. The resulting album, Vultures, is their imagined version of 1970s New York City, with stories weaving through an adventurous and surprisingly relatable album produced by Trevor Spencer (Fleet Foxes, Father John Misty, Beach House). Employing a lyrical cadence akin to that of epic generational rockers such as The Band or CCR, the title single “Vultures” tells a POV story of someone leaving their hometown for the city, hoping to “make it big.” Anyone who has ever found themselves far from where they grew up and facing the countless “vultures” along the way can probably still recall that mix of dread, bravery, hopefulness, and disappointment, and the music itself carries the listener along all of those bipolar swells:

You moved into the city, said I’m gonna make it big.

Yeah you moved into the city, you shaved your head and bought a wig.

The second track “In the City” unfolds how “Me and my friends are lighting up the streets,” leading into “Sincerely,” which laments that there is “Nothing for you here, broken glass, quiet tears.” Track four, “Strangers,” describes a wild night at a party, with a downbeat reading of the “Life’s a Party” chorus that signals more cheery façade than genuine celebration. Who among us hasn’t felt alone at a festive public gathering, and who doesn’t take advantage of the many ways one can now masquerade and even revise that reality via social media?

Nervously we’re inching toward our destination, but the band plays on, its a sad, sad song.

Like the time you spilled all the wine and stained the carpet blue, or the time you got too high and I saw that color in you too.

According to the band, “It’s about the human disconnect that social media has facilitated, the pressures that come along with it, and the false representation that it often can portray. You could post a picture of yourself looking like you’re having the time of your life at a party, but in reality, you could be drinking alone. It’s a party song for the strangers.”

Other tracks on Vultures continue the urban adventure, with descriptively titled entries such as “Friction,” “Pavement,” “Veins,” “Please, Stay,” and “Holiday Forever.” The album ends with the song “Creatures,” which opens on a 77 Sunset Strip-style riff that quickly gives way to some distorted guitar and hollow industrial city sounds as the lead character explains how he “Made my way back to the scene, had something to share.” Luckily, it was all shared — on tape — and this album may be the one that ushers Lead Pony onto an appreciative national stage.

— Jay Allen Sanford

The humorous weirdos of King Whisker

San Diego has a rich history of weirdo rockers: Frank Zappa, Country Dick Montana, Gary Wilson , and Mojo Nixon , to name a few of the more famous examples. King Whisker makes a solid case to be included with these legends on their debut album Relaxing with Aunt Janine. Operating as a five-piece outfit, the self-proclaimed “art punk weirdos” deliver ten songs that mix catchy songcraft with lyrics that often bring out the charming elements of mundane life moments.

On “My Job,” lead vocalist Charlie Rohlf asks the listener to come see him at his job, where he’s making biscuits and hoping that the skills he has will last. It harkens back to the Modern Lovers song “Government Center,” in which Jonathan Richman sang about working hard putting stamps on letters amidst “a lot of great desks and chairs.” But while the majority of the album operates in a territory that would seem a good fit for fans of The Pixies, Talking Heads, and various other pre-Nirvana MTV 120 Minutes bands, the title track “Relaxing with Aunt Janine” is a true outlier. Penned by guitarist Alex Warton’s actual Aunt Janine, and featuring a soothing vibes instrumental bed provided by the band’s multi-instrumentalist Thali, “Relaxing with Aunt Janine” feels like an abridged summary of Janine’s life, told via a spoken-word open-mic session inside the healing garden of a wellness retreat. “My career makes sense to me and that’s all that matters. When I try to find work the algorithms shatter. Radio DJ, professor bioethicist and none. My career trajectory has been unconventional but fun,” is how Aunt Janine puts it. It’s a far cry from the rollicking album opener “Boys Club/Girls Club” and the garage-rock of “Watusi,” but it also gives the album the perfect all-over-the map vibe in which all the classic weirdo bands seem to bask. Another surprise turn: the great tropical percussion vibes all over “Max and Tina” that give the song a late-era Talking Heads feel.

The band has been kicking around since 2018, during which time it has released an EP (There Is No King Whisker) and a pair of singles alongside the aforementioned album. They made videos for the two singles, with “Television” landing on YouTube first in December 2020. It’s a fun, green screen-driven document that gives the band’s sense of humor a chance to shine. But “Food Dimension” (2022) ups their video game significantly. The clip centers on a motorist who is lured inside a nearby mansion by a bowl of spaghetti after his car breaks down. He is soon taken hostage by the members of King Whisker, who force him to consume their culinary delights whilst Rohlf drops lyrical nuggets such as, “You’ve got salami for mommy and pastrami for daddy. It’s a real nice meal for a real nice family. Put ‘em all down in a flooded basement.

Crafting songs that veer into territory this odd is something of a tightrope act, as one can easily lose the listener by swimming too far into the deep end of experimentation and the bizarre. Just look at the career arc of Devo, and how fully embracing synthesizers (and practically abandoning guitars) on their 1984 album Shout led to them getting dropped by their label. Gaze at all the countless “weird” acts such as Thomas Dolby, The Buggles and King Missile that are one-hit wonders. It’s one thing to gain a listener’s attention; the trick is to capture it for the long run. The Flaming Lips are a great modern example of how to execute this task perfectly.

That being said, I really like King Whisker’s odds, primarily because they actually seem to be having a great time when they’re playing all these ridiculous/catchy songs live. There’s something to be said for all the rock bands that look like they’re enjoying themselves while on stage. It’s an excellent sign that the group will persist. If band members are shooting one another eye daggers while performing and seem to be eagerly awaiting backstage fisticuffs, you can assume the prospects for a new album in the near future are dicey at best. It’s true that King Whisker has had a lineup change since the album came out, with the departures of guitarist Warton and bassist Kevin Reith. But the now-four-piece is band is still gigging around town and prepping songs for a new album that they plan to record in the coming months.

Those who remain have a bit of a Wet Leg vibe. They feel like a group of like-minded friends that came together, threw all their creativity into a pot, and are now dancing around in the resulting stew. All they need now is their very own “Chaise Longue” to get them to Coachella.

— Dryw Keltz

Sponsored
Sponsored

Getting in on the jam with Sandollar

While in a haze from illicit activities at this year’s OB Street Fair, I found a new love: Sandollar! Frontman Baron Lunbeck reminds me of Steely Dan’s Donald Fagen as he stands front and center playing his keyboard. The key difference is that Fagen didn’t have a bag full of Miller Lites under his keyboards. There was artist Krystal Dyer, painting a backdrop with an image of the OB Pier and ocean. There were horns, percussionists, and a guitar player bringing out a giant joint. The band was something fresh to me. It was like a new ray of sunshine. They were the last act on the mainstage, and may have been the only band that got to play an encore that day.

I don’t classify Sandollar as Southern California beach reggae, because they add ska, funk, country and pop elements to songs such as “Under the Water,” with its echo of Don Henley’s “Boys of Summer.”

I don’t classify Sandollar as Southern California beach reggae, because they add ska, funk, country and pop elements to songs such as “Under the Water,” with its echo of Don Henley’s “Boys of Summer.” I’ve seen Sandollar a total of four times now. Not enough, by my calculations. Aside from the OB Street Fair, I’ve seen them at Allied Gardens Park twice and at Gator by the Bay, which rarely if ever books reggae bands. I’m not alone in my admiration: I saw people who appeared to be in their seventies buying their T-shirts at the Allied Gardens show. Under the Water won Best World Music Album at the 2023 San Diego Music Awards. They also have songs on television shows, with “Up Up” heard on Outer Banks and earning over ten million hits on Spotify. “Smoke in My Coffee” is in the new Magnum PI.

I recently got to catch up with some of the band members at bass player Max Damkoehler’s Ocean Beach place. I arrived for the get-together with a twelver of Miller Lites, Girl Scout cookies, and my guitar strapped on my back. Baron Lunbeck suggested that I bring my guitar “because there will plenty of jamming.” After introductions, a few beers, and a couple of hits from the weed pipe, trombonist/singer John Herb suggested we go inside the house to jam. He had an idea for me to be part of a song and the writing process. I had gotten a text from him on a Sunday morning at 6:15: “I have an awesome idea, let’s all write a song together.”

But before we discuss that, you need to know it all started with an apple. Lunbeck was skating to Mission Beach High School one morning and saw guitarist Marco Rodrigues with his orange afro smoking weed out of an apple. Lunbeck thought of himself as a MacGyver when it came to makeshift pipes, so he was duly impressed. “You smoke out of an apple too?” Rodrigues always had a guitar strapped on his back and beers in a backpack. Lunbeck’s background was piano, but he had Rodrigues teach him to be a better guitar player, and the duo started jamming out in woodshop. They started Sandollar in 2006: Lunbeck was working at Smart & Final when a co-worker introduced him to drummer Henry Ortiz. John Herb was recruited in 2018, and they were later joined by trumpeter Maria Connors, who runs an El Cajon music school called VIP.

Back now to Max’s house. I was asked to bring a few lyrics, so I gave the band a name-check: “I used to live where it’s hotter. Now I’m down by the water and I holler for Sandollar.” We jammed out in the living room, and I got a slight glimpse of their songwriting process. Lunbeck then said it was time for us to go out back to play for the people. We went out back with our guitars strapped on. Suddenly, I was playing with members of the band in front of an intimate audience of 15-20 people. This was an artistic collaboration, and there’s a possibility of a single being released. This kind of thing doesn’t happen to me all the time. Yeah, I may be biased, but I was there in the first place only because I was stoked about the band.

Sandollar is currently signed with Pacific, and Under the Water reached number 6 on the iTunes Music Chart. They know they need to play to a broader area outside of San Diego and are willing to go to anywhere in the USA, or the Zenith.

— Gabe Garcia

The avant-garde artistic freedom of David Oroczo

As a self-described vessel for The Source to pass freely through, David Orozco understands wholeheartedly what it is to be a true artist. Since he’s just 24, I believe this understanding will carry him to places aspiring musicians and artists can only try to match. In fact, it has already brought him to stages around Europe with the band he’s currently touring with, Destroy Boys. He has played with them on the Coachella stage as well, and recently opened for Turnstile and Blink-182 at Pechanga Arena. Check the boxes for a young San Diego musician’s dreams coming to life.

Like many musicians who are still developing their art and talent, Orozco has bounced around from different bands and projects while he grooms his own form of artistic expression. One of the more notable bands Orozco has been a part of is Beach Goons. However, when the Covid fog rolled in, he packed up his bass guitar and carried on solo. There is no beef between Orozco and Beach Goons; he just belonged in a different creative world.

It’s impossible not to see a certain illumination in Orozco when you watch him play, whether he’s singing, playing a guitar or bass, or banging on drums — although bass is his main weapon. Turning knobs behind a soundboard, working for a since-closed-down punk venue, I had the good fortune of witnessing a teenage Orozco in early development, shrieking into a microphone as the frontman for the hardcore band Instinct. At the same time, he was — and still is — pounding a bass for his favorite band as a kid growing up, Project Sell Out (PSO).

Fast forward six years to this past May, when PSO played a show at The Rabbit Hole on Adams Avenue. The magic has only grown. Orozco’s stage presence clearly grabs the audience as he plucks an aqua colored bass that he holds high like a boomtastic rifle.

King Whisker: There’s something to be said for rock bands that look like they’re enjoying themselves on stage.

In addition to playing for PSO and Instinct, Orozco has found that being a part of the band Oatmeal is where his creative liberation takes flight. The avant-garde band gave themselves no limitations: rather than trying to stay within the confines of any specific genre or style, the music they created sounds like cartoons, or sex, or a bar fight. The best part of Oatmeal’s music is the pure honesty of it. This claim’s relevance is notable in the heavily reverberated song “Spermin Hermin,” a song that might make you feel weird and scared if you listen to it while baked.

After experiencing the artistic freedom of Oatmeal, the grit of PSO, the surf rock style of Beach Goons, and the taking of larger stages with Destroy Boys, Orozco formed his brainchild band with Guys in Real Life (GIRL). The band has no borders; rather, it’s just some dudes expressing themselves as “guys in real life” with Orozco on rhythm guitar and vocals, Noah Prescott (PSO) on lead guitar/vocals, Cameron San Augustin (Instinct, Oatmeal) on drums, and Adam Madruga (Wet Dream, Pony Boy) on bass.

The sound ranges from an indie feel to some straight-up American Lynard Skynard-ass rock and roll, plus psychedelic acoustic didgeridoo jams, banjo, punk, and pop. There’s a little bit of something for everybody. Orozco and company’s most exciting project yet was recorded, produced and engineered recently in a small studio by Richard Dotson and Elias Avila of The Frights. A release date will be announced soon — or you can just let it find you, because I believe it will.

Though he has toured to nearly every state, plus Mexico, Canada, and Europe, nothing compares to San Diego for the blooming musician. David Orozco still finds the most inspiration at Sunset Cliffs, Balboa Park, El Cajon Blvd., Kate Sessions, Ocean Beach, La Jolla, La Mesa, Jamul, Spring Valley, TJ, Lemon Grove, Sea World, North Park and the Korean BBQ spots in Convoy. He is a versatile, homegrown instrument who transmits his musical art through his innate ability to channel the sights and sounds he picks up from the physical world around him. I say he will be a sought-after friendly force to be reckoned with in the San Diego music scene as long as surf keeps rolling in and the tides stay true and ripping.

— Jake Peterson

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It’s impossible not to see a certain illumination in David Orozco when you watch him play, whether he’s singing, playing a guitar or bass, or banging on drums — although bass is his main weapon.
It’s impossible not to see a certain illumination in David Orozco when you watch him play, whether he’s singing, playing a guitar or bass, or banging on drums — although bass is his main weapon.

Lead Pony can already spot the Vultures

Psychedelic blues rock has never really gone out of style — not locally, anyway. And now, San Diego is rapidly becoming a hotbed of related “concept albums,” from the space sagas of Angels & Airwaves and Steam Powered Giraffe to Barefoot Hockey Goalie’s rock opera Clairemont. Jesse Hofstee, Hillary Laughery, and Dylan Stallard made their debut on the local scene with the release of their debut Lead Pony EP, Eclipse, and the double-single, “Two Love Songs.” While adding notes to their band page in the Reader’s Local Music Database, I happened to notice they had landed a song on the TV show Shameless. I had just been binge-watching the program, and was wondering who was behind the track. It gave me no small amount of 619 Pride to discover they were a rising local act.

Vultures may be the album that ushers psychedelic blues rockers Lead Pony onto an appreciative national stage.

Bassist Seancarlo Ohlin joined the band last summer, and they began work on what is essentially a narrative musical story. The resulting album, Vultures, is their imagined version of 1970s New York City, with stories weaving through an adventurous and surprisingly relatable album produced by Trevor Spencer (Fleet Foxes, Father John Misty, Beach House). Employing a lyrical cadence akin to that of epic generational rockers such as The Band or CCR, the title single “Vultures” tells a POV story of someone leaving their hometown for the city, hoping to “make it big.” Anyone who has ever found themselves far from where they grew up and facing the countless “vultures” along the way can probably still recall that mix of dread, bravery, hopefulness, and disappointment, and the music itself carries the listener along all of those bipolar swells:

You moved into the city, said I’m gonna make it big.

Yeah you moved into the city, you shaved your head and bought a wig.

The second track “In the City” unfolds how “Me and my friends are lighting up the streets,” leading into “Sincerely,” which laments that there is “Nothing for you here, broken glass, quiet tears.” Track four, “Strangers,” describes a wild night at a party, with a downbeat reading of the “Life’s a Party” chorus that signals more cheery façade than genuine celebration. Who among us hasn’t felt alone at a festive public gathering, and who doesn’t take advantage of the many ways one can now masquerade and even revise that reality via social media?

Nervously we’re inching toward our destination, but the band plays on, its a sad, sad song.

Like the time you spilled all the wine and stained the carpet blue, or the time you got too high and I saw that color in you too.

According to the band, “It’s about the human disconnect that social media has facilitated, the pressures that come along with it, and the false representation that it often can portray. You could post a picture of yourself looking like you’re having the time of your life at a party, but in reality, you could be drinking alone. It’s a party song for the strangers.”

Other tracks on Vultures continue the urban adventure, with descriptively titled entries such as “Friction,” “Pavement,” “Veins,” “Please, Stay,” and “Holiday Forever.” The album ends with the song “Creatures,” which opens on a 77 Sunset Strip-style riff that quickly gives way to some distorted guitar and hollow industrial city sounds as the lead character explains how he “Made my way back to the scene, had something to share.” Luckily, it was all shared — on tape — and this album may be the one that ushers Lead Pony onto an appreciative national stage.

— Jay Allen Sanford

The humorous weirdos of King Whisker

San Diego has a rich history of weirdo rockers: Frank Zappa, Country Dick Montana, Gary Wilson , and Mojo Nixon , to name a few of the more famous examples. King Whisker makes a solid case to be included with these legends on their debut album Relaxing with Aunt Janine. Operating as a five-piece outfit, the self-proclaimed “art punk weirdos” deliver ten songs that mix catchy songcraft with lyrics that often bring out the charming elements of mundane life moments.

On “My Job,” lead vocalist Charlie Rohlf asks the listener to come see him at his job, where he’s making biscuits and hoping that the skills he has will last. It harkens back to the Modern Lovers song “Government Center,” in which Jonathan Richman sang about working hard putting stamps on letters amidst “a lot of great desks and chairs.” But while the majority of the album operates in a territory that would seem a good fit for fans of The Pixies, Talking Heads, and various other pre-Nirvana MTV 120 Minutes bands, the title track “Relaxing with Aunt Janine” is a true outlier. Penned by guitarist Alex Warton’s actual Aunt Janine, and featuring a soothing vibes instrumental bed provided by the band’s multi-instrumentalist Thali, “Relaxing with Aunt Janine” feels like an abridged summary of Janine’s life, told via a spoken-word open-mic session inside the healing garden of a wellness retreat. “My career makes sense to me and that’s all that matters. When I try to find work the algorithms shatter. Radio DJ, professor bioethicist and none. My career trajectory has been unconventional but fun,” is how Aunt Janine puts it. It’s a far cry from the rollicking album opener “Boys Club/Girls Club” and the garage-rock of “Watusi,” but it also gives the album the perfect all-over-the map vibe in which all the classic weirdo bands seem to bask. Another surprise turn: the great tropical percussion vibes all over “Max and Tina” that give the song a late-era Talking Heads feel.

The band has been kicking around since 2018, during which time it has released an EP (There Is No King Whisker) and a pair of singles alongside the aforementioned album. They made videos for the two singles, with “Television” landing on YouTube first in December 2020. It’s a fun, green screen-driven document that gives the band’s sense of humor a chance to shine. But “Food Dimension” (2022) ups their video game significantly. The clip centers on a motorist who is lured inside a nearby mansion by a bowl of spaghetti after his car breaks down. He is soon taken hostage by the members of King Whisker, who force him to consume their culinary delights whilst Rohlf drops lyrical nuggets such as, “You’ve got salami for mommy and pastrami for daddy. It’s a real nice meal for a real nice family. Put ‘em all down in a flooded basement.

Crafting songs that veer into territory this odd is something of a tightrope act, as one can easily lose the listener by swimming too far into the deep end of experimentation and the bizarre. Just look at the career arc of Devo, and how fully embracing synthesizers (and practically abandoning guitars) on their 1984 album Shout led to them getting dropped by their label. Gaze at all the countless “weird” acts such as Thomas Dolby, The Buggles and King Missile that are one-hit wonders. It’s one thing to gain a listener’s attention; the trick is to capture it for the long run. The Flaming Lips are a great modern example of how to execute this task perfectly.

That being said, I really like King Whisker’s odds, primarily because they actually seem to be having a great time when they’re playing all these ridiculous/catchy songs live. There’s something to be said for all the rock bands that look like they’re enjoying themselves while on stage. It’s an excellent sign that the group will persist. If band members are shooting one another eye daggers while performing and seem to be eagerly awaiting backstage fisticuffs, you can assume the prospects for a new album in the near future are dicey at best. It’s true that King Whisker has had a lineup change since the album came out, with the departures of guitarist Warton and bassist Kevin Reith. But the now-four-piece is band is still gigging around town and prepping songs for a new album that they plan to record in the coming months.

Those who remain have a bit of a Wet Leg vibe. They feel like a group of like-minded friends that came together, threw all their creativity into a pot, and are now dancing around in the resulting stew. All they need now is their very own “Chaise Longue” to get them to Coachella.

— Dryw Keltz

Sponsored
Sponsored

Getting in on the jam with Sandollar

While in a haze from illicit activities at this year’s OB Street Fair, I found a new love: Sandollar! Frontman Baron Lunbeck reminds me of Steely Dan’s Donald Fagen as he stands front and center playing his keyboard. The key difference is that Fagen didn’t have a bag full of Miller Lites under his keyboards. There was artist Krystal Dyer, painting a backdrop with an image of the OB Pier and ocean. There were horns, percussionists, and a guitar player bringing out a giant joint. The band was something fresh to me. It was like a new ray of sunshine. They were the last act on the mainstage, and may have been the only band that got to play an encore that day.

I don’t classify Sandollar as Southern California beach reggae, because they add ska, funk, country and pop elements to songs such as “Under the Water,” with its echo of Don Henley’s “Boys of Summer.”

I don’t classify Sandollar as Southern California beach reggae, because they add ska, funk, country and pop elements to songs such as “Under the Water,” with its echo of Don Henley’s “Boys of Summer.” I’ve seen Sandollar a total of four times now. Not enough, by my calculations. Aside from the OB Street Fair, I’ve seen them at Allied Gardens Park twice and at Gator by the Bay, which rarely if ever books reggae bands. I’m not alone in my admiration: I saw people who appeared to be in their seventies buying their T-shirts at the Allied Gardens show. Under the Water won Best World Music Album at the 2023 San Diego Music Awards. They also have songs on television shows, with “Up Up” heard on Outer Banks and earning over ten million hits on Spotify. “Smoke in My Coffee” is in the new Magnum PI.

I recently got to catch up with some of the band members at bass player Max Damkoehler’s Ocean Beach place. I arrived for the get-together with a twelver of Miller Lites, Girl Scout cookies, and my guitar strapped on my back. Baron Lunbeck suggested that I bring my guitar “because there will plenty of jamming.” After introductions, a few beers, and a couple of hits from the weed pipe, trombonist/singer John Herb suggested we go inside the house to jam. He had an idea for me to be part of a song and the writing process. I had gotten a text from him on a Sunday morning at 6:15: “I have an awesome idea, let’s all write a song together.”

But before we discuss that, you need to know it all started with an apple. Lunbeck was skating to Mission Beach High School one morning and saw guitarist Marco Rodrigues with his orange afro smoking weed out of an apple. Lunbeck thought of himself as a MacGyver when it came to makeshift pipes, so he was duly impressed. “You smoke out of an apple too?” Rodrigues always had a guitar strapped on his back and beers in a backpack. Lunbeck’s background was piano, but he had Rodrigues teach him to be a better guitar player, and the duo started jamming out in woodshop. They started Sandollar in 2006: Lunbeck was working at Smart & Final when a co-worker introduced him to drummer Henry Ortiz. John Herb was recruited in 2018, and they were later joined by trumpeter Maria Connors, who runs an El Cajon music school called VIP.

Back now to Max’s house. I was asked to bring a few lyrics, so I gave the band a name-check: “I used to live where it’s hotter. Now I’m down by the water and I holler for Sandollar.” We jammed out in the living room, and I got a slight glimpse of their songwriting process. Lunbeck then said it was time for us to go out back to play for the people. We went out back with our guitars strapped on. Suddenly, I was playing with members of the band in front of an intimate audience of 15-20 people. This was an artistic collaboration, and there’s a possibility of a single being released. This kind of thing doesn’t happen to me all the time. Yeah, I may be biased, but I was there in the first place only because I was stoked about the band.

Sandollar is currently signed with Pacific, and Under the Water reached number 6 on the iTunes Music Chart. They know they need to play to a broader area outside of San Diego and are willing to go to anywhere in the USA, or the Zenith.

— Gabe Garcia

The avant-garde artistic freedom of David Oroczo

As a self-described vessel for The Source to pass freely through, David Orozco understands wholeheartedly what it is to be a true artist. Since he’s just 24, I believe this understanding will carry him to places aspiring musicians and artists can only try to match. In fact, it has already brought him to stages around Europe with the band he’s currently touring with, Destroy Boys. He has played with them on the Coachella stage as well, and recently opened for Turnstile and Blink-182 at Pechanga Arena. Check the boxes for a young San Diego musician’s dreams coming to life.

Like many musicians who are still developing their art and talent, Orozco has bounced around from different bands and projects while he grooms his own form of artistic expression. One of the more notable bands Orozco has been a part of is Beach Goons. However, when the Covid fog rolled in, he packed up his bass guitar and carried on solo. There is no beef between Orozco and Beach Goons; he just belonged in a different creative world.

It’s impossible not to see a certain illumination in Orozco when you watch him play, whether he’s singing, playing a guitar or bass, or banging on drums — although bass is his main weapon. Turning knobs behind a soundboard, working for a since-closed-down punk venue, I had the good fortune of witnessing a teenage Orozco in early development, shrieking into a microphone as the frontman for the hardcore band Instinct. At the same time, he was — and still is — pounding a bass for his favorite band as a kid growing up, Project Sell Out (PSO).

Fast forward six years to this past May, when PSO played a show at The Rabbit Hole on Adams Avenue. The magic has only grown. Orozco’s stage presence clearly grabs the audience as he plucks an aqua colored bass that he holds high like a boomtastic rifle.

King Whisker: There’s something to be said for rock bands that look like they’re enjoying themselves on stage.

In addition to playing for PSO and Instinct, Orozco has found that being a part of the band Oatmeal is where his creative liberation takes flight. The avant-garde band gave themselves no limitations: rather than trying to stay within the confines of any specific genre or style, the music they created sounds like cartoons, or sex, or a bar fight. The best part of Oatmeal’s music is the pure honesty of it. This claim’s relevance is notable in the heavily reverberated song “Spermin Hermin,” a song that might make you feel weird and scared if you listen to it while baked.

After experiencing the artistic freedom of Oatmeal, the grit of PSO, the surf rock style of Beach Goons, and the taking of larger stages with Destroy Boys, Orozco formed his brainchild band with Guys in Real Life (GIRL). The band has no borders; rather, it’s just some dudes expressing themselves as “guys in real life” with Orozco on rhythm guitar and vocals, Noah Prescott (PSO) on lead guitar/vocals, Cameron San Augustin (Instinct, Oatmeal) on drums, and Adam Madruga (Wet Dream, Pony Boy) on bass.

The sound ranges from an indie feel to some straight-up American Lynard Skynard-ass rock and roll, plus psychedelic acoustic didgeridoo jams, banjo, punk, and pop. There’s a little bit of something for everybody. Orozco and company’s most exciting project yet was recorded, produced and engineered recently in a small studio by Richard Dotson and Elias Avila of The Frights. A release date will be announced soon — or you can just let it find you, because I believe it will.

Though he has toured to nearly every state, plus Mexico, Canada, and Europe, nothing compares to San Diego for the blooming musician. David Orozco still finds the most inspiration at Sunset Cliffs, Balboa Park, El Cajon Blvd., Kate Sessions, Ocean Beach, La Jolla, La Mesa, Jamul, Spring Valley, TJ, Lemon Grove, Sea World, North Park and the Korean BBQ spots in Convoy. He is a versatile, homegrown instrument who transmits his musical art through his innate ability to channel the sights and sounds he picks up from the physical world around him. I say he will be a sought-after friendly force to be reckoned with in the San Diego music scene as long as surf keeps rolling in and the tides stay true and ripping.

— Jake Peterson

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