The cool, cloudy southern California morning didn’t stop fans from packing the Huntington Beach sand for the 2nd Annual Back To The Beach Festival, presented by KROQ. With awesome food vendors, pop-up shops and play areas for kids and adults, everyone was having a blast! There were sand games, oversized beach chairs and a mechanical shark ride for adults. For kids, there was the “Lil Punk Zone” that had face painting and a mermaid interaction with a photo op. The kids were also entertained by a DJ and a band.
With the Pacific Ocean as the back drop, Day One was kicked off with Seattle-based The Drowns. This high-energy band engaged with the crowd, rallying them to some fist pumping along to their solid sound. Lead singer Aaron Rev noted, “Punk, ska, rock: we are all one family and this proves it.” In addition to dropping their new EP at Punk Rock Bowling in Las Vegas in May, the band will be making their first appearance at PRB. Be sure to catch their set! Next up were British veterans The English Beat. Dave Wakeling and his full band played to a large gathering crowd. Wakeling’s voice was as strong as ever and the band amazing, while they played crowd favorites like “Save It For Later”, “Tenderness” and “Mirror in the Bathroom”. As they struggled through some sound issues, singer King Schascha and drummer Nucci Cantrell kept the crowd skanking. “It’s about peace, love and unity,” said Schascha. Wakeling and the band took a moment to pay homage to Ranking Roger, who passed on March 26th after battling cancer. RIP, Ranking Roger.
There were sand games, oversized beach chairs and a mechanical shark ride for adults.
Back for the second year and taking the stage by storm, Orange County favorites, Save Ferris were up next. Sexy as ever, ska queen Monique Powell quickly took command of the stage, playing to a sea of fans moving much like the ocean behind them. Along with her amazing band, they played “Spam”, “Mistaken” and “New Sound”. As the familiar sound of “Come On Eileen” rang across the beach, Monique demanded that everyone get up as a pit started. “Is anyone opposed to profanity?” Powell asked as they covered Dead Kennedy’s “Too Drunk To F*ck”, kicking up another rowdy pit. After, she reminisced on how her father who used to tell her after her performances, “Other than the cursing, you were wonderful.” Going through three sexy outfit changes on stage, the crowd was hooting and hollering. Be sure to be on the lookout for my interview with Ms. Monique, coming soon!
Returning for another year, the amazing Aquabats took to the stage in true form. Clowns joined them onstage, while Aquacadets, young and old, crowd surfed on inflatable pizza slices as a rowdy pit started up during “Pizza Day”. The band tossed out sliver shark inflatables for “Shark Fighter” and striped beach balls and donuts while playing “Pool Party”. Front man MC Bat Commander engaged with the crowd, showing them a great time. After having to cut their set short, The Aquabats made up for it by socializing and taking photos with their fans backstage.
New Jersey’s Streetlight Manifesto was welcomed to the stage by screaming fans. Carrying on the energy from The Aquabats, the band played “The Three of Us” as fans danced and sang along. Their ska punk, east coast sound got the pit going again. The band also played “Watch it Crash”, playing a great set for the thousands of fans spread out across the beach. Local favorites Reel Big Fish rocked the stage, as lead singer Aaron Barrett led the band through playing songs like “Everything Sucks”, “Sell Out” and “Beer”. Joining the band onstage was Taylor Morden, playing trumpet. As fans packed the beach in all directions, the band also played “Your Guts”. Showing off his insane guitar playing, Barrett and the band closed out their set with their famous cover of “Take On Me” by A-Ha, leaving fans wanting more.
Festival co-producer John Feldmann and Goldfinger were up next, entertaining fans with covers of their favorite songs. Guest appearances onstage included Dave Wakeling, singing “Mirror in the Bathroom”. As the sun started to set, the band played “Amber” by 311 with Nick Hexum joining on guitar. Rome Ramirez of Sublime with Rome helped keep the crowd rocking to a cover of “Date Rape”, even covering “Song 2” by Blur. Closing out their set, the band played fan favorite “99 Red Balloons”. With the sun sliding into the ocean, blink-182 jumped right into “Dumpweed”. The crowd lost their minds, knowing they were going to be treated to the 20th Anniversary performance of Enema of the State, played in its entirety front to back. Many of the songs on the album haven’t been played since 1999, like the song “Anthem” — the final song of the album. Coming back for an awesome encore, with the other festival co-producer Travis Barker killing it on the drums, the band closed with “Feeling This”, “Bored to Death”, “The Rock Show” and “Damnit”.
As the sun shone down, fans returned to Huntington Beach for Day Two on Sunday, April 28th. Excited for another day of music and family fun, some kids were off playing in the sand, as parents made their way to the stage, some with children on their shoulders to check out the music. Starting out the day with more of a hard rock lineup, were UK transplants Lowlives. The band rocked the stage with their songs “Burn Forever” and “Black Hole”. Don’t miss this talented band of musicians at their upcoming show at The Roxy in LA on May 29th and their new EP Burn Forever coming out September 21st. Taking to the stage next was the impassioned Teenage Wrist, showcasing their grunge/alt/rock sound with Kamtrin Mohager’s strong voice emoting lyrics in songs, such as “Stoned, Alone”.
… an amazing weekend of ska, punk and rock all along the beautiful coast of southern California.
Story Of The Year came out playing everything from their fast and crazy punk songs all the way to their love songs. With their upcoming release of their concept album Wolves, the band was pumped to be playing for their fans just as their fans were stoked to see them again. Stealing the day, Less Than Jake brought the crowd to life and a ska sound back to the day, as they showed off their amazing horn section reflecting their ska roots. The crowd was pumped to hear all their favorite songs. Dan Campbell and The Wonder Years lit up the stage and got the crowd going, playing songs like “Sister Cities” and “I Don’t Like Who I Was Then”, while closing out their set with fan favorite “Came Out Swinging”.
Slowing the evening down was Anthony Green. Green’s indie/alt rock songs had the crowd swaying like the palm trees in the wind as they experienced his superb voice. Bringing John Feldman, from Goldfinger onstage to sing a few songs, the crowd was excited even further. Surprise number two was Travis Barker coming out to play on “Dear Child (I’ve Been Dying to Reach You).” Longtime fans flocked to the stage to see the NorCal pop-punk band The Story So Far. As the sun faded into the Pacific, the band kicked off their set with “Empty Space”, as their loyal fans heartfully sang along. The band also played a few new tracks from their album Proper Dose. Playing a 13-song set, the band initiated crowd surfers and a mosh pit with songs like “Heavy Gloom” and “Out of It”.
Anxious fans were ready for festival finalé, The Used. Kicking off their set with “Take It Away”, the band was also joined by percussionist Street Drum Corps on songs “The Bird And The Worm” and “Blood On My Hands.” John Feldman hopped onstage to cover Queen’s “Another One Bites The Dust” and Linkin Park's “Shadow Of The Day”, paying an emotional tribute to the late Chester Bennington. The band also met with longtime fan Kelvin, from the Livin’ The Dream Foundation and invited him on to the stage to sing along with them. The band was brought back out for an encore and performed “A Box Full Of Sharp Objects”, wrapping up an amazing weekend of ska, punk and rock all along the beautiful coast of southern California.
Photography by Sean McCracken