OCMA Showcase, Night 6 Tiki Bar 2/11/2014
The OC Music Award's hosted it's reggae/rock installment on night six of it's showcase series appropriately at the Tiki Bar in Costa Mesa last night. Mikey Pauker, Katastro, Solution, Wheeland Brothers, and The Originalites made up last night's array of multifaceted local bands merging styles from reggae, hip-hop, rock, ska, punk, and folk for an entertaining night of live music. Listed as Best Rock Club of 2012 in OC Weekly's Best Of issue, the Tiki Bar is known for the delicious Sunday brunch just as much as it is for it's strong music scene. The year old remodeled building also boasts a brand new sound system, but what we're really wondering is what happened to the lobster machine?
Mikey Pauker and his dapper band started off the night with his dreamy voice and Ryan Adams like demeanor. Straight from his world tour to promote his debut full-length album Extraordinary Love, this was Pauker's first local gig in over a year. The Laguna Beach resident gave us a little lesson in modern Jewish music by having the crowd sing along repeating lyrics like "shalo shalom." His peaceful melodies and unique lyrics based off spiritual Jewish text from the old testament had the perfect blend of folk, reggae, and even electronica to get the crowd moving. The performance was in no way spiritually pushy, but rather soothing as he sang about themes of love and unity.
After watching what looked like a crowd of older sorority sisters swoon over Pauker we didn't think the crowd would get larger, but it did once fan favorites Katastro took the fog filled stage. Lead by front man Andy Chavez who made sure to point out they were four friends from Tempe, Arizona (at a local Orange County music showcase, really?) they rocked a Red Hot Chilli Peppers-style set which blended rap and reggae with modern rock. The band played songs from their latest album Gentle Predator as well as new unreleased music like a sexy song titled "Runaway." They ended their set with an original cover of Lou Reed's "Take a Walk on the Wild Side" which had the crowd cheering and singing along.
Anaheim's reggae-infused showcase returnees Solution were shortchanged last year in the Best Live category and they came back even stronger last night. They serenaded the crowd with tracks from last year's Sacrifice EP with songs like "Without You," before getting down to extended punk guitar solos and a heavy metal percussion. It's no wonder they are also nominated in the Best World Music category alongside bands like Reel Big Fish, Seedless, and Dirty Heads. Solution's stage presence coupled with their touching reggae-rock lyrics made their passion stand out. The crowd could tell they were having a great time jamming to a now packed sweaty room and they feed of the energy.
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Soon the night turned into burritos, neon sunglasses and wahines as the Wheeland Brothers took the stage. The reggae surf band fronted by brothers Travis Wheeland and "Nate Frogg" Wheeland brought a young beach like atmosphere as they covered Bob Marley's "Is This Love" while dancing in the crowd with the ladies and bringing a wahine to perform onstage during one of their songs. Their sound was impeccable - a complete replica of Bradley Nowell's signature Sublime sound. They ended with "Beans and Rice" off their most recent album Muchos Mahalos and challenged the rest of the bands to a surf off even though the showcase was for the Best Live Band not Best Surf category.
As the night came to a close, those who were out on a school night began departing. If you were one of those, then you missed one of the best sets from The Originalites. The ska, dub, surf, reggae, psychedelic, Latin (yes the white boys sang in Spanish) four-piece outfit made things extra funky with Michael Belk on the saxophone. Daneil Tello's vocals resonated over the speakers like a modern day ska version of Jimi Hendrix while the band exuded energy, musicality, and a damn good time. We're not sure what songs they played because we were too busy dancing it up in the crowd, but we do know they ended with their "Sidewalk Ska" and kept us yearning for more.