Customers at Isla Vista’s Cali Roll Express got a little rock with their rolls last week when the sushi restaurant hosted the second in what the eatery’s owner hopes will become a permanent series of free concerts.
Cali Roll Express owner Jay Lee said he currently plans to have a concert each month and hopes to eventually offer a free show every week. The restaurant hosts about two bands per concert, and the musicians receive the restaurant’s tips for the night and a free sushi dinner as payment.
Lee said the concerts, which are held on a small stage erected on the patio in front of Cali Roll Express, give students and I.V. residents a public place to congregate and listen to local musicians on the weekends.
“We’re trying to support local bands,” Lee said. “And there is no place kids can go and hang out on the weekend nights, and [now] they will be able to come here”
Lee said he hopes to arrange an agreement with Starbucks and Subway, who share ownership of the patio with Cali Roll Express, to have a stage permanently set up outside the three businesses.
Cali Roll Express employee Victor Perez, a senior business economics major, said he thinks the concerts are a good idea because they are open to everyone and attract large crowds.
“The concert was great – we had a big turnout, the whole restaurant inside and patio were full,” Perez said. “It’s great to experience something different in I.V., and it’s not closed to anyone.”
Alex Duddy, a former UCSB student who attended Friday’s concert while visiting I.V., said he thought the event had a good sound system and an impressive turnout. He said he thinks that weekly concerts would be good for the I.V. music scene.
“It seems like it really has potential,” Duddy said. “If it becomes permanent, it could become a really positive thing for the lack of music scene in Santa Barbara.
Cali Roll is currently looking to recruit bands that play a wide variety of music, Perez said, and hopes to attract even larger crowds in the future. Restaurant employees work security during the concerts and hand out wristbands for 21-year-old attendees who want to purchase beer or sake bombs.
“The music is mainly rock, but we’re looking to get reggae or maybe have an open mic night so we can reach out to different crowds,” Perez said.
Eric Singer, a local musician who lives in I.V., said he is in charge of coordinating the bands and the venue. Singer, who is a member of the band Isle 3, said his background in music helped prepare him to organize the concerts.
“All of this came from the fact that I wanted to be a musician,” Singer said. “I am the entertainment manager – the bands have to go through me when they want to play, we built the stage and set up the lights and PA system.”
Singer said he plans to make the patio outside Cali Roll Express a permanent venue and start hosting concerts every weekend by summertime.
“That little quad area is really special,” Singer said. “I want bands around the nation to know about Isla Vista and know they will have an awesome place to play when they come here.”
Singer said he has bands like Rebellion, Winslow, Isle 3 and Innocent Noise scheduled to perform in the next few months. Once the concerts become permanent, he said, he thinks I.V. will be able to attract world-famous bands, as well as local talent.
“One of my biggest goals is to have Slightly Stoopid come play,” Singer said. “Slightly Stoopid is the biggest band signed to Skunk Records – they were brought up under Sublime and are world-famous now.”