Two-Tone Scene to Heat Up in the Summer of Ska

Starpool (Brittany Woolsey)

As if Orange County didn’t get enough of ska at this past weekend’s Back to the Beach Festival, the next few months could be considered the Summer of Ska.

At least, that’s what Cameron Hallenbeck and Whitney Dunkle of Pocket Entertainment are naming it. The pair — who’s been responsible for events like last year’s Ska-mic Con festival with OC ska heroes Reel Big Fish and East Coast punk/ska band Less Than Jake — is planning four shows with local and big-name ska bands at the Garden Grove Amphitheater to help grow the scene even more.

Esteban Valenzuela, keyboardist of Matamoska and Steady 45s, who will each play the Summer of Ska, said he believes the showcase can draw further attention to the scene full of two-tone, third wave, punk and reggae outfits.

“Seeing shows like Back to the Beach really gives us hope in making our own resurgence to a local level,” says Valenzuela says of last weekend’s stacked, two-day festival that featured bands like The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, The Aquabats, Goldfinger and Fishbone playing on the sands of Huntington Beach. “Garden Grove Amphitheater really is an ideal platform to start a monthly showcase of some of SoCal’s best underground bands.”

Starpool kicks off the series on June 9 with its rescheduled 15th anniversary show after the previously scheduled March concert was canceled at the last minute due to unspecified difficulties. The band comprised of former members of Save Ferris and No Doubt will be joined by Codename: Rocky, Half Past Two, Matamoska and Hooray for Our Side.

Skapeche Mode (Brittany Woolsey)

Members of Starpool, along with some of the ladies of the glitter-fied Unicorn Injection, will also debut a new band called Bite Me Barbie on July 14. Skapeche Mode and Stupid Flanders will open.

On July 28, Pocket Entertainment will host a show called Rude and Irie featuring the orchestral Western Standard Time (with Hepcat’s Greg Lee on vocals), the Debonaires, The Delirians, the Steady 45s and more. Ten bands will play on three stages.

Artists for the August 19 Wet Hot Skamerican Summer show have yet to be announced, but if the lineups of the previously mentioned shows are any indication, we know this one is going to be just as, if not more, “skasome.” All that’s been revealed so far about this show is that 15 bands will play on three stages.

Hallenbeck and Dunkle says they’ve included bands from all over Southern California in the Summer of Ska to bring unity to the Orange County and Los Angeles ska scenes.

Hallenbeck says he’s excited for the Garden Grove Amphitheater’s potential as a music venue.

“The thing that will stand out the most is the ampitheater’s unique set up and wide open space to move around,” he says. “It features a large patio area and huge ampitheater as well as a cool enclosed space called The Locker Room located directly behind it. Fans can pay a small fee and have their pick of bands to see. There’s just so much room to move around and explore. We’re really excited to build a scene around the Garden Amp and create a new home for all ages ska and punk.”

Daniel Park, who collaborated with Pocket Entertainment to produce the showcase, believes Garden Grove is the ideal location for the shows because it’s centrally located in Orange County, which has produced such bands as No Doubt, Save Ferris and Suburban Legends.

“It’s interesting that the biggest musical star from OC came from a ska band, so we need to support ska,” Park says. “Gwen is not getting any younger!”

Tickets for each Summer of Ska show are $5, with the exception of Wet Hot Skamerican Summer, which is $15. Early bird summer passes with admission to all four shows is $35 and available to people of all ages. Each show will take place at the Garden Grove Amphitheater, 12762 Main Street in Garden Grove. For tickets and more information, visit

By day, Brittany covers hard-hitting city news in San Diego. By night, she’s prowling the Orange County music scene, and is usually a regular attendee of local ska and punk shows. Reporting and music have always been Brittany’s passions. She wrote for her middle school and high school newspapers and studied journalism at Cal State Long Beach, where she graduated in 2012. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her French Bulldog, watching probably too many Disney movies for someone her age and napping.

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