Ska Takes a Place in the Sun at Back to the Beach Fest

The Interrupters (Credit: John Gilhooley)

The Back to the Beach Festival is upon us! For the locals, this is a festival decades in the making. For years, OC has been the place for music, especially Ska. Headlining bands like Reel Big Fish, Starpool (former Save Ferris and No Doubt band members) and VooDoo Glow Skulls have been a driving force that helped keep Ska alive in the hearts and souls of the locals. After all, the OC was the birthplace of 3rd Wave Ska-Punk in the 90’s. The locals love their Ska, and they know their roots. They love bands that pay respect to their seminal genre icons Prince Buster, Desmond Dekker and the Skatalites. These artists brought Ska to us. Ska gave birth to Rocksteady and Reggae, not the other way around. Needless to say, for years there’s been something brewin’ in the air in the OC.

The big question is what started this Wave? The answer is simple. In 2014, Tim Armstrong’s Rancid ska family made its first live appearance, they’re a band called The Interrupters. They appeared at a show put on by local Promoter, Tazy Phyllipz, of Ska Parade. We didn’t know it then, but that was the day the dynamic in the Ska world shifted. The band blew the doors off the Slidebar, it was as if the Distillers went Ska. That’s the best way to describe them. They’re loud, they’re in your face, and their music makes you dance! From that point, everyone from coast-to-coast and around the world was waiting for either the next song or event that would launch the 4th Wave of Ska.

There have been several Ska bands that have maintained the scene. There’s been an influx of great music and shows where local bands and out-of-town bands have played in SoCal. The interest has always been there, which translates dollars for promoters. It’s this love of Ska that has had promoters scrambling for years for the right moment to invest in the genre. A few months ago, ALT Rock radio mega station, 106.7 KROQ FM, had Blink 182’s, Travis Barker, and Goldfinger’s, John Feldman went on the Kevin & Bean show to announce what fans have been waiting to hear. They let us know the wait was over, the 4th Wave of Ska was here! The Back to the Beach Festival  was no longer a dream, it was reality.

Barker and Feldman are no strangers to the Ska scene. Before joining Blink, Barker was in The Aquabats. He’s still known by some as The Baron Von Tito, that was his Aquabats name. Whereas, Feldman, is the most dapper Ska punk you’ll ever meet, he’s the lead singer in Goldfinger. These guys have had such a positive impact in keeping the Ska scene alive. Barker and Feldman have always known that the locals would support a Ska-themed festival if it had the right bands.  

The guys teamed up with festival Promoter, John Reese of Laguna Beach-based Synergy Global Entertainment [“SGE”]. Members of every band performing has said they were excited to be playing this show. The festival will be held at Huntington State Beach on Saturday, April 28 and Sunday, April 29… and the lineup is epic. It features a virtual who’s who of Ska, Punk and Reggae bands. Day 1, April 28th features – 311, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones,  there’s OC’s # 1 sons The Aquabats, Hepcat, Less Than Jake, Mad Caddies, The Suicide Machines and Big D & the Kids Table.

Day 1 of B2B is insane! Bands the kids love to see will feature Dicky Barret and the Bosstones. This band is from Boston and they have been considered the Godfather’s of SkaCore; they’ve been a steady presence since the 80’s. Less Than Jake and Mad Caddies are simply entertaining. The Aquabats have been an OC staple since they first came out.  The Suicide Machines are also from the Mid-West, and fans couldn’t be happier when they reformed after a sabbatical; and they sound just as great as ever.

Fans are also very eager to see Big D & the Kids Table and 311 on Day 1.  Big D is also from Boston, but these Bostonians are one of the local’s favorite Warped Tour Ska bands.  They are loud, entertaining, and lead singer, David McWane, is about as classy a person the Ska scene could have ever hoped for. He’s been an unofficial Ambassador for the scene for years. 311 is a force of a different kind. Nick Hexum and the guys are one of the most professional, entertaining and successful bands you’ll ever see. They’re originally from Nebraska, but have adapted to the California lifestyle.  The band has brought a lifestyle environment to the scene that their fans have embraced. Hexum, is a great businessman, but he also has a great sense of direction. Nick’s said that he loves SoCal because people from around the world look towards SoCal to be the leader for so many things in life, that includes their music. Locals feel his devotion to the area, and the lifestyle he supports. Reason # 101 fans love this band! Songs you’ll probably hear from 311 include “Beautiful Disaster,” “Come Original,” “All Mixed,” “Down,” “Amber,” and “ I’ll Be Here Awhile” just to name a few.

Day 2 is guaranteed to be a crazy show as well. If you can still stand, this show will KICK YOUR ASS! The April 29th lineup features Sublime with Rome, Goldfinger (with Travis on drums), Fishbone (with original band members), the class of the Mid-West Mustard Plug, The Aggrolites,  Monique Powell’s version  of Save Ferris; then, there’s the Two Tone and soul sound of The Untouchables, and finally… the band you need to see, The Interrupters.

A band from Day 2 the locals are dying to see is Sublime with Rome. The thing about SWR, there’s been a little controversy for the band even existing after the loss of the original lead singer, Bradley Nowell. Over the years, it’s clear the band, and specifically, Rome Ramirez, are not trying to be a karaoke version of Sublime, or Bradley. Instead, Rome is Rome, and the band brings a great sound to the stage. Rome has said time-after-time, he does this so kids that couldn’t experience Sublime have this experience. To honor the band’s legacy, they’re putting out new material as well. Those songs stand on their own. Given the band’s good nature, they’ve won over many of their critics. Songs you’ll probably hear include “Date Rape,” “Santeria,” “Badfish,” “Wrong Way”, “Caress me Down,” “Doin’ Time,” “What I Got”,” Take It Or Leave It” and “Panic.”

Goldfinger is just damn fun to see, and The Aggrolites and Untouchables always bring it. Hands down, the band you want to make sure you see is The Interrupters. Over the past year, they’ve toured with the likes of Green Day and Dropkick Murphys. They have new music coming soon, maybe they’ll play some of the new songs. Their current catalogue plus the covers they play are simply jaw dropping. Look for songs like “A Friend Like Me,” “By My Side,” “Haven’t Seen the Last of Me,” and mega-hit, “Take Back the Power.”

Given that Barker, Feldman and Reese are family guys, the festival will feature a carnival midway, beach games, a kid zone, craft beer and cocktails, and because it’s OC, there’ll be vegan food. Something else the guys considered, given they admire what Kevin Lyman has done with Warped Tour over the years, they’re taking a page from his playbook. That means Back to the Beach will be free for children under 10 (that is with paid adult admission). Hopefully, this will be the inaugural First Annual Back to the Beach Festival. Come out and see some great bands and dance your ass off.


Back to the Beach Fest is April 28-29 at Huntington State Beach. For full lineup, info and tickets, click here.

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