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Gonzo Report: Take Offense & Escuela Grind it out at Brick By Brick

A wet and sour night in Linda Vista

A king of shreds and thrashes: Greg Cerwonka of Take Offense
A king of shreds and thrashes: Greg Cerwonka of Take Offense
Video:

GONZO REPORT: Take Offense at Brick By Brick


“The last time I was in here, I went completely berserk on this dude who told my grandson to be quiet,” Jeff told me as we dined on some Mexican cuisine at Ponce’s on Adams Avenue. “I thought they were going to kick me out, but they [Ponce’s staff] ended up apologizing to me. I didn’t have to pay for a damn thing that night.” It was Jeff’s last week as a San Diego resident after a nearly 60-year run. Born and raised. The former drummer/Black’s Beach frequenter/Frito-Lay chipman had become yet another casualty, and was soon to be en route to a more affordable life in Arizona. Since it was his last week in the city, he took to getting out and about every chance he could. So when I offered up my extra ticket to the Escuela Grind/Take Offense show at Brick by Brick on a wet Wednesday night, he jumped at the chance.

Once my Cali burrito had been demolished, I dipped from Ponce’s and peeled to Brick by Brick. Jeff took his own ride and said he would meet me there. At the venue, I was wanded at the door and asked if I had any knives, guns, or any other weapons. I contemplated cracking a joke about my arms being weapons of some sort, but refrained. It did feel like there was something dangerous in my gut after killing that massive burrito, however. Could that count as a weapon? Maybe later, after digestion. But even though a nuclear bomb was brewing within, I was granted access.

Place

Brick by Brick

1130 Buenos Avenue, San Diego

Sponsored
Sponsored

Once inside, I walked past multiple couples draped in black leather and spelunking the depths of each other’s throats with their tongues. I found my way to the front. The joint’s smell was fittingly sour. A band from Boston called Bonginator smothered the stage with Dimebag Darrell-type screaming guitars. Then the big long-blonde-haired frontman yelled out the name of their next song: “420-Pound Poop,” and began grunting heavily while chanting “Uh uh uh poop poop poop” over a dark, drop-tuned riff. Not quite the “brown note,” but close.

After the Bonginator mess was cleaned up, Take Offense kept the energy acidulated. The Chula Vista group was kicking off the beginning of multiple city tour. No better place to start a tour than at home with a big push from the hometown fans. As I held my own in the front, I could feel the wind — and an occasional kick to the back of the leg— from the pit behind me. Lead guitarist Greg Cerwonka shredded nasty guitar solos, mirroring the ‘80s thrash metal for which I have a deep and abiding love.

I looked at my phone and saw that Jeff was trying to get ahold of me. He was stuck at the door, waiting for his ticket. Once inside, he bolted for the bar. We watched the remainder of the TO set at a safe distance from the kicking. Stellas were only five bucks, so that’s what was lubricating my throat. In classic Jeff fashion, he opted for the red wine.

“I think my friend Matt is here,” Jeff said. “He’s got one leg. Lost it from hopping a train. It’s pretty cool.” A short search party for Matt fizzled quickly after Take Offense’s set finished. Then it was Escuela Grind time. Frontwoman Katerina Economou’s vocals were deep, growling, and powerful. I was not expecting that kind of force to come from Economou’s petite frame. The crowd seemed blown away by the East Coast act. We looked on as the sound guy started dancing and getting in the thrill of the music. I felt what I thought were insects crawling up my leg, only to realize it was the vibrations from the ear-splitting EG set.

When the show found its ending and the venue settled, Jeff and I stood at the bar, watching the bands break down and pack up their equipment. It wouldn’t be long before Jeff would be packing up himself. As a transplant, it’s a gut-punch for me to lose local guys like Jeff. The ones who have deep knowledge of the city’s underground pockets, who can tell you where to find a good massage, where the best hole-in-the-wall restaurants are, what beach to go to, when to catch the best waves. Then, as we gathered ourselves to leave, Jeff grinned and asked, “You wanna go to Cheetahs?”

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A king of shreds and thrashes: Greg Cerwonka of Take Offense
A king of shreds and thrashes: Greg Cerwonka of Take Offense
Video:

GONZO REPORT: Take Offense at Brick By Brick


“The last time I was in here, I went completely berserk on this dude who told my grandson to be quiet,” Jeff told me as we dined on some Mexican cuisine at Ponce’s on Adams Avenue. “I thought they were going to kick me out, but they [Ponce’s staff] ended up apologizing to me. I didn’t have to pay for a damn thing that night.” It was Jeff’s last week as a San Diego resident after a nearly 60-year run. Born and raised. The former drummer/Black’s Beach frequenter/Frito-Lay chipman had become yet another casualty, and was soon to be en route to a more affordable life in Arizona. Since it was his last week in the city, he took to getting out and about every chance he could. So when I offered up my extra ticket to the Escuela Grind/Take Offense show at Brick by Brick on a wet Wednesday night, he jumped at the chance.

Once my Cali burrito had been demolished, I dipped from Ponce’s and peeled to Brick by Brick. Jeff took his own ride and said he would meet me there. At the venue, I was wanded at the door and asked if I had any knives, guns, or any other weapons. I contemplated cracking a joke about my arms being weapons of some sort, but refrained. It did feel like there was something dangerous in my gut after killing that massive burrito, however. Could that count as a weapon? Maybe later, after digestion. But even though a nuclear bomb was brewing within, I was granted access.

Place

Brick by Brick

1130 Buenos Avenue, San Diego

Sponsored
Sponsored

Once inside, I walked past multiple couples draped in black leather and spelunking the depths of each other’s throats with their tongues. I found my way to the front. The joint’s smell was fittingly sour. A band from Boston called Bonginator smothered the stage with Dimebag Darrell-type screaming guitars. Then the big long-blonde-haired frontman yelled out the name of their next song: “420-Pound Poop,” and began grunting heavily while chanting “Uh uh uh poop poop poop” over a dark, drop-tuned riff. Not quite the “brown note,” but close.

After the Bonginator mess was cleaned up, Take Offense kept the energy acidulated. The Chula Vista group was kicking off the beginning of multiple city tour. No better place to start a tour than at home with a big push from the hometown fans. As I held my own in the front, I could feel the wind — and an occasional kick to the back of the leg— from the pit behind me. Lead guitarist Greg Cerwonka shredded nasty guitar solos, mirroring the ‘80s thrash metal for which I have a deep and abiding love.

I looked at my phone and saw that Jeff was trying to get ahold of me. He was stuck at the door, waiting for his ticket. Once inside, he bolted for the bar. We watched the remainder of the TO set at a safe distance from the kicking. Stellas were only five bucks, so that’s what was lubricating my throat. In classic Jeff fashion, he opted for the red wine.

“I think my friend Matt is here,” Jeff said. “He’s got one leg. Lost it from hopping a train. It’s pretty cool.” A short search party for Matt fizzled quickly after Take Offense’s set finished. Then it was Escuela Grind time. Frontwoman Katerina Economou’s vocals were deep, growling, and powerful. I was not expecting that kind of force to come from Economou’s petite frame. The crowd seemed blown away by the East Coast act. We looked on as the sound guy started dancing and getting in the thrill of the music. I felt what I thought were insects crawling up my leg, only to realize it was the vibrations from the ear-splitting EG set.

When the show found its ending and the venue settled, Jeff and I stood at the bar, watching the bands break down and pack up their equipment. It wouldn’t be long before Jeff would be packing up himself. As a transplant, it’s a gut-punch for me to lose local guys like Jeff. The ones who have deep knowledge of the city’s underground pockets, who can tell you where to find a good massage, where the best hole-in-the-wall restaurants are, what beach to go to, when to catch the best waves. Then, as we gathered ourselves to leave, Jeff grinned and asked, “You wanna go to Cheetahs?”

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