This past Saturday I got together with about 19,999 other San Franciscans to attend the Oyster and Beer Fest at sunny Fort Mason. It was a gorgeous day with enough sun to turn my face a mottled pink (that still hasn’t faded) but enough of a cool breeze to keep the sweat from dripping into my oysters.
Nothing ruins the taste of a briny/fishy gob of snot with hot sauce more than a few drops of salty sweat. Consensus seems to be that the oysters themselves were hit-and-miss with regards to quality. My own seafood tastes runs more toward the fish end of the wading pool, but I can shuck and suck with the best of them and I thought they tasted like oysters (which is to say like nothing really, except for the sauce you put on them and a little salt). The idea of the festival was to celebrate the way Guinness and oysters go together and I must admit I concentrated more on the latter than the former. Though I consumed some shellfish:
There was plenty of beer on hand, although since the event was sponsored by the “Big G,” the variety was limited to Guinness, Harp, and Smithwicks. That was more than enough to satisfy me, but as the festival went on I ran into a common problem:
They did what they could, but things got crowded at both the port-potty area and the beer tents. After being forced to endure a half-hour wait for that precious foamy liquid and forty-five minute one for its expulsion, I had no choice but to slow things down and teeter on the elusive borderland between sobriety and its opposite. Turns out this is the ideal frame of mind to enjoy the real reason I went to the show, which was a concert by Flogging Molly. Other bands played during the day, and they were all right but I was really there to see my favorite Irish rock band.
Unfortunately, I had to keep some distance from the stage due to a slight legal misunderstanding I had with Bridget Regan, the fiddle player. (Some day she’ll come around and see the truth. Just because someone makes a life-sized doll out of another person’s old hair and garbage doesn’t mean he’s obsessed; just a dedicated fan. On that day she’ll lift that restraining order and I’ll climb down from my treetop post and we’ll be together forever.)
But I digress. My position on the field was pretty good. I was not alone:
And although I am, as they say, “getting too old for this shit.” I was so appalled by the quality of moshing that I felt compelled to enter the fray. I don’t know if it was just a laid-back day but the moshers were bopping around like somnambulent children. I miss having no regard for my own body, and so:
That’s me in the Guinness top. (Which incidentally has been to more Flogging Molly and Dropkick Murphys shows than I can count, presuming I can’t count higher than six.) I was pretty much unopposed as the dominant force in the pit, except for one determined Marine who made it a point to tackle me when no one else dares. He knocked me down once, and was once knocked down in return. Semper Fi, my friend, Semper Fi.
Except for someone pouring an entire Smithwicks on my head when my back was turned, it was a fairly sedate mosh pit. I was unperturbed. I found the cold liquid refreshing, and the clinging beer smell in my hair and on my shirt served as a pleasant reminder of an afternoon well spent.
Mosh pit aside, I had a great time. I never get tired of seeing Flogging Molly or drinking beer, and I had ample opportunity to do both. I know all the songs by heart, but I still love to sing them. I was also struck by how seemingly lax the security was. There was nary a bouncer in sight once you got past the entrance, and the police presence was minimal. My friend Oliver suggested it was probably unnecessary as San Francisco seems mostly devoid of the speed-crazed rednecks that can turn most outdoor festivals in my home state of Florida into nigh-riotous brawls without a heavy security detail. It’s not that Northern California is lacking in aggressive no-goodnicks, but perhaps rather that they are less destructively preoccupied with ruining everyone’s good time.
Whatever the reason, I eagerly await next years festival.