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Written by Neil Metcalf

Photography by Matthew Belter

On Sunday April 29th, Travis Barker and John “Feldy” Feldmann (along with World Famous Radio Station KROQ – 106.7 FM) presented “Day 2” of Back To The Beach Festival on the the golden sands of Huntington State Beach. A sold-out crowd of over 15,000+ made their way down to South Orange County for an afternoon of great food, cold beer, and killer music headlined by Long Beach’s very own, SUBLIME WITH ROME. From sunup to sundown, there was no break in the action for the thousands of attendees who made Surf City their home on this beautiful Spring afternoon. For all those who attended, it was truly one hell of an experience!

One of the wonderful things about Back To The Beach is that event producer John Reese (along with Travis Barker and John “Feldy” Felddman) spared no expense in ensuring that musical lineup for the annual festival was second to none.  Every band that hit the stage on Sunday brought their “A” game and the overall vibe that resonated throughout the crowd was simply incredible.  The capacity crowd seemed to have a great time, dancing in groups or skanking on the sand to some of the best ska music on the planet today. This was definitely a line up for the ages.

Now, on to some real-time reviews from Sunday’s show:


  • THE UNTOUCHABLES – What can be said about a band that many consider to be the Godfather’s of the US ska movement?  From the moment Jerry Miller and crew took the stage, they set the standard for all other bands that followed on Sunday afternoon. From start to finish, these cats killed it with a sound that was incredibly tight, streamlined, most importantly fun.  THE UNTOUCHABLES put on display 30+ years of SKA brilliance and failed to disappoint even the most discerning of fans. If you are a fan of ska and missed this one, you missed out on one of the all-time greats.


  • THE AGGROLITES - The next band UP, THE AGGROLITES, absolutely killed it! They brought the tempo back down to earth by playing some straight up Reggae tunes that no day at the beach would be complete without.  By the end of their set, the growing crowd was moving, grooving, and rocking steady to their own version of Reggae, of as THE AGGROLITES dub it, “Dirty Reggae”.  Awesome set.


  • MUSTARD PLUG - Ska veterans MUSTARD PLUG hit the stage and finally got the pit going with their incredible horn section and unique up-tempo verses. There was no shortage of audience participation when these guys went on, as was evident by the growing cloud of sand and dust from all the skankers near the front of the stage. Loving the “on-beach” performance, it was fun to hear lead vocalist Dave Kirchgessner lobby to have Back To The Beach show organizers set up potential future dates on the shores of Lake Michigan, wouldn’t that be a blast!!!


  • THE INTERRUPTERS – This was my first time seeing the Los Angeles ska/punk act live, and I was absolutely floored from start to finish. Formed by the Bivona Brothers and front-woman Aimee Interrupter in 2011, this band was tight and had a stage chemistry that was second to none on Sunday.   Signed to Hellcat records, it’s pretty clear from this band’s unique sound that it had close ties with other legends in the ska/punk world.  Aimee's voice sounded like a female Tim Armstrong at times and the catchy bass lines complimented the classic ska feel of the guitar and drums very well.


  • SAVE FERRIS – What a treat to have Monique Powell and company back performing on the beach that they grew up on over 20 years ago.  This ska-punk band from Garden Grove, CA absolutely killed their set with a fierce sound that had the now capacity crowd off their feet and rocking to the beat. SAVE FERRIS’s sound seemed a bit more experimental than your conventional ska punk act, and this came out in their use of an occasional upright bass as well as some gypsy guitar chords.  And who couldn’t love front-woman Monique's bluesy/soulful voice?  It’s just what the doctor ordered on Sunday afternoon. One of my favorite sets of the day.


  • FISHBONE - Next up was FISHBONE, featuring their original lineup.  Pound for pound, this was possibly the most energetic act of the entire day.  From start to finish, this band was just grooving and genuinely had fun on stage - there's no other way to describe it.  Everyone on stage was dancing around and giving it their all - jamming with each other and feeding off the crowd’s rabid energy to take their own to a whole new level.  At one point, frontman Angelo Moore stepped up to the mic and started rapping some well timed slams against President Trump, and when the drums kicked in the whole crowd nodded to the downbeat perfectly in sync.  Their reunion was something to see and truly a set for the ages!


  • GOLDFINGER – This band featured the two of Back To The Beach’s amazing organizers, Drummer Travis Barker (of BLINK 182) and Vocalist John "Feldy" Feldmann (of GOLDFINGER). By the time they took the stage, practically the entire sectioned off rectangle of Huntington Beach was filled to the brim. The band played some of their biggest hits like "Superman" and “Sellout.  They also covered NENA’S "99 Red Balloons" as well as THE SPECIALS classic, “Nite Klub".  Frontman John Feldmann had a way of communicating with the crowd that got everyone hyped up as well as laughing at times as he went on rants between songs - bashing Donald Trump and Ted Nugent, without the filter you might expect at an all ages concert. All in all, GOLDFINGER proved themselves an exceptionally entertaining live act.


  • SUBLIME WITH ROME -  Finally, the headliner and arguably the most anticipated act took the stage. The sun had set by the time SUBLIME WITH ROME hit the stage, and the party was in full swing as the band opened  up with "Date Rape" off 1992’s 40oz to Freedom.  From beginning to end, these amazing musicians provided an amazing tribute to the late Bradley Nowell and SUBLIME throughout their 15 song setlist.  They covered all of SUBLIME greatest hits including "Smoke Two Joints", "April 29th 1992" and of course finishing off with a two-song encore including "What I got" and “Santeria”.  I was amazed at just how well current frontman Rome Ramirez replicated Bradley's voice and stage presence. The band was so relaxed on stage and their grooves were so perfectly in sync with each other that at a couple different points throughout their set it was easy to forget that this was SUBLIME WITH ROME paying tribute to Bradley and the original SUBLIME.  They were just that good, and a must see for all SUBLIME fans.


Overall, the 2017 Back To The Beach festival will go down as one of the coolest events to ever rock Huntington State Beach. Whether you were drinking amazing beer, eating killer food, of jamming to some amazing live music on the planet, there was something for everyone at this year’s show.  And as the music came to an end, all I could think about was what an incredible festival this was.  In a day and time where many over-hype and under-deliver, John Reese, Travis Barker, and John “Feldy” Feldmann pulled out all the stops and exceeded all expectations for what many in attendance felt was a beach festival for the ages. Looking forward to seeing how this trio tops this one in 2019 with their next annual installment.  Until next time…

Neil Metcalf

Writer - Los Angeles

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