Ska-punk, the sunny and uptempo and relentlessly cheery mutation of early-’60s Jamaican dance music that took over alt-rock radio sometime in the mid-’90s, is not considered remotely cool these days. Those of us who once proudly rocked newsboy caps and chain wallets and bomber jackets covered with patches have been made to feel ashamed and embarrassed for our high-stepping, horn-loving younger selves. But fuck all that. One day soon, ska-punk will rise again! And maybe it’ll happen this summer, since someone has managed to book two solid days of ska-punk all-stars in the greater Los Angeles area.
God bless the generous souls who put together the Back To The Beach festival, which will come to Huntington State Park 4/28-29. (That’s the same weekend as the National’s festival. I wonder if they had to fight over bands.) Consequence Of Sound reports that the festival is the brainchid of Goldfinger’s John Feldmann and Blink-182’s Travis Barker, who got his start in the antic and gimmicky ska-punk group the Aquabats. Headliners 311 and Sublime With Rome are really only ska-punk by association — though, let’s be real, “All Mixed Up” is a ska-punk song — but the rest of the lineup is pure checkerboard Vans.
Barker will play with Goldfinger during the fest. And who knows, maybe he’ll play with the Aquabats, too! They’re also on the bill! So are ska-punk legends Fishbone, whose original lineup will reunite for the first time since 1993. The bill also includes old-school Warped Tour faves like the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Save Ferris, Hepcat, Less Than Jake, Mad Caddies, Mustard Plug, and the Suicide Machines. (Personal note: I have seen most of these bands live. I have seen some of them many times.)
Here’s a video of Fishbone performing “Jamaica Ska” with Annette Funicello in the 1987 Back To The Beach. Maybe she’ll be there!
I am slightly offended that Reel Big Fish aren’t playing this. Is it because they sold out? Because listen: The record company gave them lots of money, and everything was all right.