It was a very hot week in Southern California. I mean it was like Africa kinda hot. Oddly, as I approached the Orange County Fairgrounds to catch The Aquabats and The English Beat at the Pacific Amphitheatre, the marine layer kicked in and it suddenly became a very pleasant night in the OC.
As the doors opened, the early birds took in Dead Man’s Party, an Oingo Boingo cover band, and the crowd enjoyed their performance. Maybe because it was the last weekend of the OC Fair, it didn’t take long for the venue to fill up. By then, the temperature was about to become scorching.
“I grew up listening to the English Beat. As a teenager in the 80s when the mod-ska scene was big, everyone loved going to clubs and dancing to their music. When that third wave hit and OC was the place to be again, their music was still the gold standard. Today, I can’t help but smile when I hear Dave’s music.”
Robert Ventura | Riverside, CA
As Dave Wakeling took the stage, the crowd cheered to the English Beat’s “Rough Rider.” It was evident that Wakeling was happy to be playing live again, and he connected immediately with his banter with the crowd. The band was tight as ever, and Toaster Antony First Class was as energetic and entertaining as ever.
While this was billed an Aquabats show, the OC is the epicenter of third wave ska-punk, and the local ska community was there to support The English Beat. Ska fans lost their minds when Wakeling rolled into classics like “Hands Off She’s Mine” and “Too Nice To Talk Too” before they busted out with a couple of General Public tunes (”Tenderness” and “I’ll Take You There”).
With their distinctive sound and entertaining repartee, what happened next gave the entire amphitheater a case of the happy feet. Dancing and skankin’ to classic English Beat songs like “Twist & Crawl,” “Mirror in the Bathroom,” and “Save it for Later,” the crowd got exactly what they came for. English Beat was worth the price of admission alone.
As the night skies faded from dark to black, it was an ominous sign that The Aquabats were in the house. With a video element that accompanied their performance, the crowd went nuts as MC Bat Commander took the stage.
“I have always loved The Aquabats! Now that I have children, I love them even more. They are genuine happiness, and their music just makes you smile. MC Bat Commander is hilarious!”
Jennifer Turner | Costa Mesa, CA
Playing classics like ‘Sequence Erase,” “Cat 2 Heads,” “Super Rad!,” “Shark Fighter,” “CD Repo Man,” “Giant Robot Birdhead,” “Pizza Day” and “Fashion Zombies,” among other hits, The Aquabats! kept the crowd on their toes and screaming at the top of their lungs.
Bottom line, everyone in the house could tell the Bats had missed their fans and vice versa. As the night went on, characters from their much beloved show made appearances, even really, really big sharks!
The band was simply on fire all night long. Throughout the show, the guys reached out to the crowd and personally thanked them for coming out to the show. Often, they were shaking hands and even wearing their hats and posing with concertgoers during the show.
It doesn’t matter how old you are, The Aquabats! and the Bat Commander have a way to make you smile and forget about what’s going on in life for a moment.