Photo by Sari Cohen
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Photo by Sari Cohen
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Photo by Sari Cohen
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Photo by Sari Cohen
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Photo by Sari Cohen
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Photo by Sari Cohen
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Photo by Sari Cohen
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In its inaugural year, Back To The Beach gave Southern California a new reason to celebrate. As the home and heart of third wave ska, holding the two-day concert at Huntington State Beach was the first sign this festival had all of the right ingredients. Presented by KROQ, the brainchild of blink-182’s Travis Barker and Goldfinger’s John “Feldy” Feldmann featured a lineup of ska, punk and reggae legends that was already enough to make any fan’s dream come true. Adding in a mixture of magical variables made the April 28-29 event a recipe for perfection.

Here are 5 reasons Back To The Beach is the ultimate festival experience.

5. The location

For the past 30-plus years, Southern California (Orange County in particular) has been the birthplace of a number of incredible bands. With venues such as SeaLegs at the Beach recently opening themselves up to live music events, the idea of creating a festival like this one was genius. Literally bringing the artists who ruled the airwaves in the ‘80s, ‘90s and early 2000s back to the beach where a lot of their careers began, was a fantastic concept. The sunshine mixed with the cool ocean breeze ushered in a taste of summertime that seemed perfectly apropos for the occasion. The soft sand and spectacular view of the Pacific Ocean in itself rates up there as one of the most visually stunning spots in the world, but add in the element of beach-vibey music, and this is one place you’ll never want to leave.  

4. The comfort level

Most frequent festival-goers know that comfort is the key when it comes to a pleasant concert experience; especially when it runs over the course of a couple of days. Back To The Beach did it just right. The location was spacious, so unless you were trying to cement yourself somewhere toward the front of the stage, there was plenty of room to sprawl out and enjoy the show. People brought blankets so they could just relax and enjoy, the lines were surprisingly short because there was an abundance of options, and the beach location even offered additional restrooms just outside of the venue. You could easily maneuver your way through the massive crowd of polite and happy people who all came for the same reason - to have a good time.

3. The vibe

One thing that this genre of music evokes is a special kind of vibe and it was precisely that energy that rippled through the crowd. For people who grew up in the ‘90s, it was like traveling through time as your present-day self, with all of the perks you enjoyed in your teenage years. That nostalgia factor brought out everybody. Even musicians who weren’t performing could be spotted among the crowd. There were fun games, oversized beach chairs, an inflatable octopus, a giant beach ball, shaded areas to hang out in, and more merch stands than you count. There was even a “Lil’ Punk Kid Zone” for parents with children 10 and under, which offered a variety of family-friendly experiences such as face painting, a slide and different social activations.  

2. The music

To say this lineup was anything other than a ska lover’s dream would be an understatement. Back To The Beach welcomed two days’ worth of groundbreaking artists who land at the top of must-see acts. The resurgence of the genre has prompted all of the greats to increase their number of live shows but getting them all in one place was an event not to be missed. April 28 welcomed: Viernes 13, Big D and the Kids Table, The Suicide Machines, Mad Caddies, Less Than Jake, Hepcat, The Aquabats, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones and 311. April 29 welcomed: The Untouchables, The Aggrolites, Mustard Plug, The Interrupters, Save Ferris, Fishbone (original lineup), Goldfinger (featuring Travis Barker) and Sublime With Rome. The entire event gloriously showcased an array of artists from the past few decades whose performances were all dynamic.

1. The surprises

While the performances on their own were each outstanding, a lot of acts doubled down and created a “wow” factor by inviting other artists to join them on stage. Favorite songs being played by the band you love would suddenly turn into an incredible jam session that highlighted the fun behind the music. As most of these musicians have known each other for years, it was like watching a family reunion where you could just see the love and appreciation they have for each other. Day one, Less Than Jake teamed up with members of Reel Big Fish, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones and John Feldmann. Travis Barker (aka The Baron von Tito) joined The Aquabats on stage. Following that was The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, who closed out their set with "The Impression That I Get," which included members from almost every band on the bill. Day two brought about a standout performance by Save Ferris. The band was introduced by Pipe from The Wailing Souls and their set was highlighted with a special moment between lead singer Monique Powell and Fishbone’s Angelo Moore.

Be sure to visit the Back To The Beach website for additional details – and then mark this on your calendar for next year.