Jasmine Cain and Afterlife at Dirty Harry’s Pub in Daytona Beach, FL on 3/6/21 By Jesse Striewski

The 80th Annual Bike Week officially kicked off in Daytona last week, and so did the many live shows it brings along with it every year. Although I made it out to Dirty Harry’s Pub & Package this past Saturday, March 6, I must come clean before I get started on my ‘official’ critique of the show; I might have been there past the barricades the whole night, but not only did I not have my main photographer (who also happens to be my lovely wife, Brooke), but I was also lacking a professional camera on hand with me. Hence the reason for just one (very mediocre) live shot here in place of a full photo gallery.

But as the old saying goes, the show must go on (in this case, with or without good pics), so I’ll do my best to describe Saturday night’s show in full detail. Local rocker Jasmine Cain is someone I’ve been following for some time now, but had still not had a chance to see live yet. After finally witnessing one of her sets firsthand, I can finally see what all the fuss is about.

Cain actually opened her set with a number of originals (one that sticks out specifically was “1995”) before going into a host of covers. Some not-so-surprising, like Heart’s “Barricuda” or Pat Benetar’s “Heartbreaker.” But it’s when Cain dug a little deeper that things really got interesting. Cain and her band then took on the likes of Ozzy Osbourne’s “Bark at the Moon,” Megadeth’s “Symphony of Destruction,” White Zombie’s “Thunder Kiss ’65,” Metallica’s “Enter Sandman,” and Skid Row’s “Monkey Business,” and with total ease. Cain even ended her shift on a high note by jumping off the stage and briefly crowd surfing.

By the time Afterlife took the stage, the temperature outside had clearly dropped, and rain began to steadily creep in. However, the well-intoxicated crowd did not seem to mind one bit by this point. Before I analyze the band’s set, I will weigh the pros; the musicians were all extremely talented (especially their lead guitarist with his noticeable handicap) at what they did, and the songs they played were nearly identical to the originals. But it was the majority of the songs/bands they chose to cover that I just don’t care for much (and to be fair, I understand having to ‘play for your crowd’). Most of the material the group entertained were the type of overplayed rock songs I tend to immediately change the channel as soon as they come across the radio. And their singer may have been good at handling the likes of Godsmack or Alice In Chains (which each appeared to be his specialties), but a lot of the material from time to time seemed out of his vocal range.

And I would honestly be completely content if I never had to hear another cover band take on such forgettable tracks as Nickelback’s “Figured You Out” or Limp Bizkit’s “Break Stuff” ever again, but that’s just what Afterlife offered. And not only that, they also committed one of the biggest ‘no-no’s’ in my book of rock; performing some of the same songs as the other band on the bill. This was not only done once or twice, but THREE times when they covered the same tracks by Ozzy Osbourne, White Zombie, and Megadeth that Cain previously had. Maybe the conversation of who was playing what that night never took place, but it probably should have.

The crowd of course didn’t mind at all though, as long as they were given more of what they are used to. It seemed like the later the night went on (Afterlife actually played two full sets), the more unbearable the attendees became (there were even several drunken patrons who saw me on the other side of the barricade that actually asked if I could get them on the stage, or if I would relay a ‘song request’ to the band, as if that were how it actually works!). But the biggest shocker of them all came at the very last song of the night; a rendition of Drowning Pool’s “Bodies” caused the audience to rage in such a frenzy, said barricades were dangerously close to being knocked down by, well, bodies. I don’t think I was ever more relieved for a show to be over by that point, and left grateful to still be in one piece.

Pauly Shore at the Hilton Daytona Beach Oceanfront Resort on 1/25/21 By Jesse Striewski/Photos By Brooke Striewski

I don’t claim to be a huge fan of stand-up comedy by any means, and it’s been well over five years since the last time I willingly went to see a comedian live (and even then, I was there once again for work purposes). But how could my wife/photographer and I not go see the ‘Weasel’ himself, Pauly Shore, where it all began for him so long ago (and on our seventh wedding anniversary, in the same city where it all began for us as well, none the less) in the city of Daytona Beach?!

Presented by Bonkerz Comedy Productions and held at the Grand Ballroom at the Hilton Daytona Beach Oceanfront Resort (which coincidentally, is where my wife and I actually ate dinner right before getting engaged years ago, making the evening all the more special for us on a personal level), it was an extremely welcomed relief to a long year lacking an aubundance of laughter (even Hawaiian Tropic founder Ron Rice made his way into the audience last night).

Central, FL local Lou Pharis warmed up the crowd with (literal) enormous enthusiasm. Although towering at an intimidation-level height, he came off as a harmless gentle giant, there to simply win the audience over with laughs not too far off from your common dad jokes (but in a good way).

Kirk Bonacci, who has appeared on such Disney Channel shows as Game On! and The Avatars, used more of a self-depreciating style of comedy, with a slower approach, albeit perfectly timed punchlines. His ability to handle – shall we say – not the most welcomed audience participation from one particular crowd member, was also priceless.

And at last, the mighty Pauly Shore whisked onto the stage to the tune of David Lee Roth’s “Just Like Paradise,” encouraging the crowd to rise and proclaiming it was time to “party!” Once he began, it was nearly impossible not to laugh at every ridiculous thought that flowed from his brain to the microphone. Even the most simple, monotonous lines (I was dead after he stated, “I have to go grocery shopping when I get home”) were enough to bring the audience to its knees.

A good portion of his jokes relied on his age, and analyzing how much things have changed with him (and the world) since his early ’90s, MTV-fueled heyday. And while politics did make their way into the jokes from time to time, it was refreshing for once to hear something that wasn’t just one-sided and simply for the sake of bashing. Shore no doubt seems to still come from the old-school mentality where it’s okay to poke fun of everyone and anyone, regardless of what side of the fence they happen to land on (something sadly missing way too often in many platforms these days).

And of course, there were plenty of quotes from the vault brought out; classic lines like “Weazing the juice” from Encino Man and “Steven Tyler PJ’s” from Son-in-Law are among many that could be heard uttered throughout his set last night. Chances are if you grew up during Shore’s prime of the late ’80s/early ’90s (like I did), his stand up routine will be right up your alley as well; catch him if and when you get the chance (Shore’s next show will actually be at the Orlando Improv tonight).

Daytona Beach Set to Lose Another Retail Icon in Sears By Jesse Striewski/Photo By Brooke Striewski

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Last Friday, Sears Holding Company announced the closing of another 80 Sears and Kmart stores nationwide. Among those to close this upcoming March is the Daytona store at the Volusia Mall. It’s easy to see why many of these stores are closing though, after feeling as though stepping back in time from just one visit.

Originally opened in 1975, the store itself shows noticeable signs of aging. Outdated floor and wall patterns, as well as dingy restrooms are just the tip of the iceberg. The store shelves often are wobbly, and at times scattered and/or even empty. There’s also a defunct photo studio, now used as a storage space that’s blocked off by a black curtain. Just one lap around the entire store and it was easy to see why this location was put on the chopping block.

Local shopper Jason Potter lent his thoughts on the the Daytona location closing it’s doors; “I used to shop at the Deland location before they closed that one. Now they’re going to close this store and there won’t be any left in the area. It’s sad.”

Still, even with the dim circumstances and knowledge of imminent death, the store associates themselves all seemed very much humble. And there is still hope that Sears chairman Eddie Lampert might actually be able to keep the Sears brand from dying off completely with his recent bid to save the company. Only time will tell if this once giant retail chain will stand the test of time.

-J.S.