Brew Ha Ha was back and providing a fun evening of beer tasting and music for Orange County. Just last month, the craft beer production company had their annual Brew Ska Ska festival, headlined by Less Than Jake at Oak Canyon Park. Last weekend, the aptly named Boo Ha Ha Festival came to the OC Fairgrounds with night one focusing on ‘90s alt and pop punk and headlined by OC natives, Lit.
As soon as I walked onto the fairgrounds, the first thing I noticed – other than the spooky decorations – were the dozens of beer-tasting tents. Rad Beer Company, Belching Beaver, Cerveza Cito, and Hangar 24 were just a few of the many breweries offering shot-sized cups of beer, hard seltzer, and cider. At beer-tasting festivals in the past, they often hand you a plastic or glass sample glasses when you first walk in, and that you bring with you from booth to booth. In an effort to remain sanitary, each tent had disposable cups that they would serve you. It was great to sample so many terrific beverages; all while people watching the attendees who had dressed up in costumes, and of course, listening to great music.
The first band of the night was local band, and long-time friends of Lit, Handsome Devil. Lit can even be seen in the band’s “Makin’ Money” video. Before playing, lead singer and guitarist Danny Walker announced that the band would be celebrating the 20th anniversary of their debut album, “Love and Kisses from the Underground,” by playing the album in its entirety. The band’s 30-minute set brought a decent-sized crowd who put their drinking on hold to enjoy some ‘90s pop punk. Before closing their set, the band played their alternative hit, “Makin’ Money,” which they dedicated to Alan Thicke, who starred in the video.
Next up was Mest, whose history of friendship and touring with Lit goes back two decades. The band first started receiving attention when their 2001 album “Destination Unknown” was released. They broke up in 2006, reforming shortly thereafter with a much different lineup. The one constant has always been lead vocalist and guitarist, Tony Lovatto, but fans were excited when members Matt Lovatto, Nick Gigler, and Jeremiah Rangel rejoined in 2015.
Mest had been touring extensively and just released a new album, “Masquerade,” last January. I had not seen Mest in a few years, and this was the first time I saw them play with a keyboard player. The band played just under 40 minutes and their set concluded with “Rooftops and Cadillac,” with a quick cover of the Outfield’s “Use Your Love” during the song’s break.
The boys from Lit had quite an eventful week to end October. They kicked off last week by releasing a brand new single, “Yeah Yeah Yeah” before headlining night one of Boo Ha Ha. The band walked out to Foghat’s “Slow Ride” before launching into their new single, followed by “Four” and “Down,” two songs off their “A Place in the Sun” album.
Released in 1999, “A Place in the Sun” would go on to reach platinum status, due largely to the popularity of their smash hit, “My Own Worst Enemy.” It was a staple on radio, MTV, movies, and to this day can often be heard playing on KROQ. I will say, 20 years later and the guys still look and sound great. That is partially because they are not some one-hit wonder who are coasting off the success of one song, but rather have been actively touring and releasing albums over the years. In fact, guitarist Jeremy Popoff recently told OC Music News that the band plans on releasing a new album in spring of 2022. They even debuted another new single, “Mouth Shut” in their setlist.
The biggest ovations of the night were for the hits “Miserable” and “Zip-Lock,” which lead singer and Jeremy’s brother, A. Jay Popoff prepped by saying, “I’m going to turn back the clock and take you back to MTV Spring Break 1999.” Later on, A. Jay casually mentioned he was a breakdancer as a teen, to which a chant of “prove it” immediately started. Finally, after being goaded some more, he backed it up doing a “baby kick worm” across the stage while bassist Kevin Baldes strummed a groovy bass line. Baldes is the only one who has remained in his hometown of Orange County, while the Popoff brothers now reside in Nashville.
After a rousing hour-long set, the hometown boys closed by playing the much anticipated “My Own Worst Enemy” to a loud choir of fans singing back. And thus, another successful Brew Ha Ha event was in the books. What a great way to kick off the Halloween weekend by welcoming home a band that no matter where they reside, remain such a great representative of Orange County.
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PHOTOS by GREG VITALICH
What’s next for Lit? More new music that’s what! Keep track of the band’s website and socials as new music will be coming very-very soon for Lit!