Back To The Beach – Ska Is Not Dead!

The 1st annual Back To The Beach Festival presented by KROQ, Travis Barker and John “Feldy” Feldmann took place this past weekend, April 28 & 29, 2018, in Huntington Beach.  Over 30,000 people attended the festival which featured performances from top ska, punk and reggae artists.  VIP tickets included a dedicated festival entrance, an exclusive viewing area, VIP restrooms, a VIP cash bar and exclusive VIP dining options.  Music between sets was provided by The Vandals’ bassist, and Kung Fu Records owner, Joe Escalante via turntables and vinyl records.

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Saturday was co-headlined by 311 and The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, and also featured performances by Big D & The Kids Table, The Suicide Machines, Mad Caddies, Less Than Jake, Hepcat and The Aquabats.

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Unfortunately for Less than Jake, mother nature did not want cooperate when they tried to cover the crowd in toilet paper.  Nearly all of the toilet paper flew back onto the stage, prompting the band to jokingly state that they “needed to save it for the backstage bathrooms”.  A number of songs were performed from their 2003 album Anthem, including “The Science of Selling Yourself Short”, “The Ghost of You and Me”, and “Look What Happened” which John “Feldy” Feldmann came out to sing with them.

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About half way through their set, The Aquabats were joined by The Baron Von Tito (Travis Barker) on drums for “Super Rad!”, “Powdered Milk Man!” and “Idiot Box!”.  Due to unforeseen interruptions by the Sand Fleas and the Powdered Milk Man, who The M.C. Bat Commander bravely fought off, there wasn’t enough time to perform “Pizza Day!”.

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The Mighty Mighty Bosstones wore matching black suit jackets adorned with patches and safety pins.  Their set included covers of Bob Marley and the Wailers’ “Simmer Down” and Johnny Nash’s “I Can See Clearly Now”.

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311’s relaxing blend of rock and reggae was the perfect complement to the sound of the crashing waves, and a great way to end the night.  The band performed “Beautiful Disaster”, “Amber”, “All Mixed Up” and “Come Original”.

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Sublime with Rome and Goldfinger co-headlined on Sunday, which also featured performances by The Untouchables, The Aggrolites, Mustard Plug, The Interrupters, Save Ferris and Fishbone.

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The Interrupters announced that they have a new album, Fight The Good Fight, coming out June 29!  During their performance, guitarist Kevin Bivona shared that his favorite thing about ska is the inclusive community created around it.  Unfortunately The Interrupters did not perform any new songs, but their set did include “A Friend Like Me”, “By My Side” and “Take Back the Power”.

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During Save Ferris’ set, vocalist Monique Powell reminisced about growing up in Orange County and performing in the movie 10 Things I Hate About You.  Save Ferris performed a couple of covers during their set, including “Come On Eileen” by Dexys Midnight Runners and Reel Big Fish’s “She Has A Girlfriend Now”, which Powell recorded the original female vocals for.  Powell was joined on stage by Fishbone vocalist Angelo Moore for the live performance of “She Has A Girlfriend Now”.

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In recent years, Goldfinger has become a supergroup made up of John “Feldy” Feldmann, Mike Herrera, Philip “Moon” Sneed, and in this case Travis Barker.  For Back To The Beach, the supergroup grew even larger.  First Feldmann brought out Aaron Barrett of Reel Big Fish, a band who was notably absent from the lineup, to perform “Superman” and a cover of Reel Big Fish’s “Sell Out”.  Barrett ended up performing with Goldfinger for the remainder of their set.  After sharing that the first band to take Goldfinger on tour with them was No Doubt, Feldmann brought out Tony Kanal and Gabe McNair.

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Sublime with Rome’s performance included a number of well-known hits, including “Date Rape”, “Smoke Two Joints” and “Wrong Way”.  I’ve seen Sublime with Rome perform a number of times, but prior to Back To The Beach I had not seen them perform “April 29, 1992” on April 29.

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The inaugural Back To The Beach festival was a huge success!  Every detail of the festival was well thought out, and the lineup was perfectly curated.  Some suggested improvements for next year’s festival would be water bottle fill up stations, and additional shade areas.  Thank you Back To The Beach for reminding everyone that ska is definitely not dead!

– Martin Shook

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All photos by: Martin Shook

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