It’s that time of year again for music festival season and Back to the Beach festival at Huntington State Beach on Saturday and Sunday April 27 & 28 got the season off to a memorable start. Back for its sophomore year, this festival saw close to 40,000 fans between the two days in 2018 come out for fun in the sand with the beautiful Pacific Ocean in the background in Surf City USA. This year, the 2019 Back to the Beach festival had blink-182 and The Used headline each night respectively with 2018 alumni Save Ferris, The Aquabats and Goldfinger back onstage this year along with Reel Big Fish, The Story So Far, The English Beat and many others.
Curated by SGE Wolrdwide led by John Reese who is responsible for most music festivals in Southern California, along with Travis Barker and John Feldmann, collectively they once again put together a fun filled, family-oriented spectacle right on historic Huntington Beach (Thank You).
The festival featured a kid zone, games, rides, vendor village, VIP areas . . . something for everyone and with many of the bands having deep roots right in Orange County this was sure to be an epic weekend of music and memories.
With the day kicking off at 12:45 on Saturday, The Drowns, The English Beat and Save Ferris heated up the early part of the day priming all in attendance for grand performances from The Aquabats, Streetlight Manifesto, Reel Big Fish, Goldfinger and then the headliner blink-182 playing Anema of the State in its entirety to celebrate its 20th anniversary.
It’s always a super fun time seeing The Aquabats play – especially on a large stage in front of the Pacific Ocean in front of 15,000 fans. The band led by The MC Bat Commander took the stage and kicked off their set with what else but “The Shark Fighter!” and you guessed it dozens of inflatable sharks were immediately thrown out into the crowd and continued to fly through the air the entire set. Of course “Pizza Day!” had large inflatable pizza slices thrown and bouncing around the crowd – now huge pieces of pizza AND sharks are being passed about in the crowd – quite a sight. No better way to end a set at the beach than with “Pool Party!” . . . It should be mandatory that The Aquabats be a returning act every year at this festival. Super fun!!
East Coast SKA Kings Streetlight Manifesto were up next and played a fun filled, feel good set to the Huntington Beach crowd. This was a no frills let the music do the talking set that showcased the bands fantastic horn section with each song. A perfect act to follow The Aquabats and to lead into Reel Big Fish.
Reel Big Fish
Reel Big Fish is EXACTLY what Back to the Beach needed – the perfect combination of Ska and punk and tons of fun. These guys certainly know how to have a good time with their feel good, somewhat edgy and humorous songs, these Orange County natives were surely a highlight of the day. Song highlights included “I Want Your Girlfriend to be my Girlfriend Too”, “Everyone Else is an Asshole” and “Beer”, the band ended the set with a cover of A-Ha’s “Take on Me”.
Already a Back to the Beach alumni after playing last year, John Feldmann and Goldfinger took the festival to a whole different level with their performance. Feldmann is a very passionate and fierce performer that leaves everything on stage. The band put on one of those epic never to forget performances. Guests onstage included Nick Hexum from 311, Rome Ramirez from Sublime, Dave Wakeling from The English Beat, Monique Powell from Save Ferris and former Goldfinger member Charlie Paulson for most of the songs.
Feldmann crowd walked about halfway out in the massive crowd while performing then crowd surfed back to the stage. He even brought his 10 year old daughter onstage to say hello. The performance ended with a cover of Nena’s “99 Red Balloons” – without a doubt the most epic time on stage of the day!
With ‘Enema of the State’ turning 20 years old on June 1, blink-182 is celebrating the record by playing it in its entirety and that’s just what they did blasting out hits such as “All the Small Things” and “What’s My Age Again?” along with all the other classics on that album. Travis Barker successfully nailed his drumming even while having one foot/leg in a walking cast – a true performer and master at his craft. Matt Skiba and Mark Hoppus traded off vocals on the songs as tons of fog/smoke blasted into the air along with lots of pyro during the set.
Upon completion of Enema of the State the band played six additional hits including a killer Travis barker drum solo. Blink-182 was the perfect band to close out the Back to the Beach festival on Saturday night.
With the total success of Back to the Beach again in 2019, there is no doubt the festival will be back bigger and better than ever in April 2020.