For decades, SoCal and the OC specifically, have been a Mecca for great live music. We’ve seen the rise of Social Distortion, Lit, No Doubt, The Offspring, and Dirty Heads. In addition to the bands, their fans love the places they get to see them perform . These places became a second home and where their favorite memories live. Back in the day, we caught our sonic heroes at places like Fender’s Ballroom in Long Beach, Goodies in Fullerton, or the Golden Bear in Huntington. As with everything in life, nothing lasts forever as many of OC’s iconic venues only exist as memories these days. Luckily for us, there’s a concert organizer who’s bringing back the boom of OC’s glory days. The organizer is Sellout Events, they’re led by Scott Tucker and Vanessa Turbay.
Being a concert organizer is one of the toughest gigs on the planet. After all, we all know someone who’s in a band, DJs on the weekends or books wedding singers. However when we think concert organizers, we think of Goldenvoice, Live Nation or SGE’s of the world. These titans have earned their place at the top of the totem pole, unfortunately for others… it’s a tough trek to get a seat at that table. It takes a lot of hard work, sometimes years. You have to be a people person in order to build the needed relationships, create the infrastructure and network to make it. Mostly, you have to be able to stomach the countless unpaid late nights putting on shows. That’s how you pay your dues, and for Sellout, that’s how it all started.
For Scott Tucker, who was born and raised in Huntington Beach, OC is home to whatever ventures he gets into, including Sellout Events, which he created 20 years ago as a small local band booking company. He started off at some of those favorite OC haunts that have sadly disappeared. Places like the Lava Room, Kona Lanes, the Rhino Room and Live Bait. In those semi-early days, Tucker first ventured into larger events with promotions at The Queen Mary. Those shows were so successful, he moved onto bigger shows and snowboarding events. For those shows, he incorporated the who’s who of the Punk and Ska world. He even got into the world of Moto and BMX events. Since then, he’s developed relationships with broadcasters KROQ, Jack FM and in recent years, OC-based KX935.
It wasn’t until 2011 that life changed for him. As fate would have it, one night when he was scouting a band called Deadbolt at the Doll Hut, that’s where he met Vanessa Turbay. It was instant good karma, as they were destined to be life and business partners. They hit it off immediately, and they became self-proclaimed drinking buddies who took in a ton of shows while scouting talent. Tucker said Turbay already had an impressive resume which included over a decade in business and insurance procurement; she also facilitated technical recruiting. It didn’t take long for him to realize she had great business sense, and shared his passion and ear for music. It was her out of this world-organizational and business skills that impressed him most. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to come to the conclusion that she could change the firm’s landscape. She joined Sellout in 2013 and landed with a splash.
Before you knew it, Sellout was managing The Underground and Diego’s in Santa Ana as well as The Yost Theatre. With Turbay at his side, Tucker felt energized to go after larger bands, festivals and corporate events. In a recent interview, he said “it takes a lot of coordination to put on a large event, Vanessa was able to bridge that gap for us and connected our network in a more efficient way… that made all the difference in the world.” With a sigh of relief, and in a very punk rock way, Tucker is living that good ole’ adage; he who wanders is not always lost.
Sellout started attracting top notch talent. The bands they’ve landed over the years include The Dickies, The Adicts, Slightly Stoopid, Pepper, Reel Big Fish, Suburban Legends, Goldfinger, Face To Face, Green Day, English Beat, At The Drive In, Lee Rocker of the Stray Cats, Rocket From the Crypt, Jello Biafra & the Guantanamo Bay School of Medicine, Cherry Poppin’ Daddies, Shooter Jennings, Voodoo Glow Skulls amongst many others.
Their booking success is only half the story. Given Sellout’s HB roots, Sellout set their eyes on reviving the music scene back home; and not just the occasional festival. They wanted to bring a nightly source for entertainment that HB deserves. They wanted to bring back the glory days of the Golden Bear and create an atmosphere that music lives and breathes in Huntington. In 2017, Sellout became only the fourth owner of a local institution called Gallagher’s. This Irish Pub has been around for over 25-years. It’s a great place to see local artists and larger acts. On any night, you can see an up a coming band, and the likes of Mickey Avalon, Tommy Tutone, Pato Banton, The Blasters, Angelo Moore of Fishbone and Jesse Hughes of Eagles of Death Metal fame. There’s also stand-up comedy and 80’s KROQ night with DJ’s Richard Blade, Jed the Fish and Freddy Snakeskin.
As with any festival, there’s a reason why certain organizers make it, and some don’t. If anyone knows what it takes to make it, it’s Warped Tour Grand Poohbah, Kevin Lyman. In a recent interview, I asked Kevin about putting together festivals. He said it’s the toughest job you’ll ever love. There’s a lot that goes into it, there’s a lot of attention to detail required, but in the end, it’s worth every moment. When asked what organizers are out there that impresses him, he had two names. First was John Reese of SGE, and Scott Tucker of Sellout. That in itself tells you a little bit about the quality of entertainment firms we have in OC, both these companies call OC their home.
Now, it’s the 4th Annual Like Totally Music Festival that’s about to hit us, courtesy of Sellout. This flashback juggernaut has brought back the teenager in us. This festival has brought us The Alarm, Berlin, A Flock of Seagulls, Dramarama, Missing Persons, and the Human League just to name a few. This year’s festival falls on Saturday, May 11th and it’s another stellar lineup. This year you’ll take in The Bangles, Public Image Limited, ABC, The Romantics, The Smithereens, The Tubes, Greg Kihn Band, Animotion, China Crisis, Josie Cotton, Jerry Miller of the Untouchables, Richard Page of Mister Mister, Debora Iyall of Romeo Void, Deon Estus of Wham, and Martha Davis of the Motels. As in year’s past, they’ll have great food and vendors at the event.
With most stories, that would be it, the end… not in this case. In most articles I try to outline some factoid that sets the subject apart. Instead of a fact, I thought about an observation that hopefully tells you more about Sellout and its owners. Last year I sat down with Tucker, but before we actually sat down, my wife and I noticed a young woman walking across the street. She clearly had one too many drinks. Before anyone could help her, Tucker walked across the street to her aid. We could hear them talk; he asked if she was OK. He pleaded that she let him call her an Uber. She finally agreed, before you knew it, he put her in the ride; AND he paid for it. He then casually walked back to the bar. Things got busy, I went in and forgot about it. Not long ago, I spoke with him for this article…I remembered that encounter. I asked him if he remembered that day. With a smile, he just said, “Jimmy, I wish I did, sadly, we see that all the time.” I asked him why he did that, his response was direct, he replied… “why not, she’s a human being, we’re in HB and it’s no different than being in Boston, it’s called HB pride, we look after each other.”
I try very hard not to judge anyone, especially businesses… but, I do measure. I use this rule, anyone can be who they want us to think they are when the spotlight is on them, but it’s what they do when they think nobody is looking that tells you everything you need to know; I’ll leave that at that. I then asked Tucker given Sellout can put on a show anywhere, and probably make more money, why does he continue to go with HB? He said, “My first job was selling shaved ice on Main Street when I was 12… Vanessa and I live here, we love this city, it’s where we want to be, and we will always support it.”
So… what makes Sellout stand out? In my opinion, it’s the management. They don’t just do things right, they strive to do the right things at every opportunity. They care about the company, they care about the community, they care about every aspect of every show, they care about the concertgoers, and they try to learn from every event to make the next one better. Here’s what makes Sellout different, they give a shit! I never say that, but in this case, it’s the highest compliment I can give any organizer. With all this in mind, this year’s Like Totally Music Festival is destined to be another great event to hit Huntington Beach! Check it out, you’ll be very happy you did.