T-Bone Willy of Starpool crowd surfing at Ska Luau
T-Bone Willy of Starpool crowd surfing at Ska Luau
Brittany Woolsey

Ska Luau Gives Us a Reason to Be Skankful at House of Blues Anaheim

While most people would think of the winter as a time to bundle up in sweaters and jackets, the Orange County ska community sees it as the season for Hawaiian-printed clothing and grass skirts and fit in at an annual family reunion of sorts.

The Ska Luau — which celebrates the megaband Starpool, comprised of former members of No Doubt and Save Ferris — is going seven years strong as one of the biggest annual ska parties in OC.

"It's the big exciting show of the year for us, at the end of every year," says Alan Meade, lead vocalist for Starpool. "Everyone knows we only have the opportunity to play just a few times a year, so on this particular show we get to have it at an awesome and larger venue, blow it up and invite all of our friends and family to plan some shenanigans."

Meade says Starpool shows have been so rare simply because of the complexity of coordinating all the band member's schedules. He compares it to "trying to get eight guys to decide what to put on a pizza."

"We look forward to it as much as I think the fans and friends do," he says. "I think the rest of the band and I are all just glad they still come and have fun with us every year we do it. I think it's because of the silliness of the name. I know there are a lot of themed shows, with fun titles, but Ska Luau just sounds fun."

This year, the show on Nov. 25 at the House of Blues in Anaheim also features sets from Suburban Legends, Half Past Two, Skapeche Mode and For Pete's Sake.

While Suburban Legends and Half Past Two have been staples on the Ska Luau lineup for years, this will be the first time Skapeche Mode and For Pete's Sake will play the show.

"These are two fun bands," Meade says. "If you like Depeche Mode, you'll love the fun and crazy ska versions of their songs from Skapeche Mode. I'm also so excited for my first time seeing For Pete’s Sake, which will have our drummer Evan [Kilbourne] banging away."

The event is the brainchild of guitarist Brian Mashburn, who worked with booking agent John Pantle to put together a special show for Starpool that showcased other bands. Around the same time, Mashburn received a call from his former band director about featuring his Polynesian dance troupe in a show. Thus, the Ska Luau was born (although the Polynesian dancers are not included in the lineup this year.)

Attendees are encouraged to wear island-inspired clothing, and flower leis are usually provided at the door to help fans get into the spirit. The show also usually includes plenty of surprises, including Starpool trombone player T-Bone Willy doing his crowd-surfing routine, which changes in theme each year.

Meade says the show is something the Orange County "ska family" always looks forward to every winter. Usually the event is held closer to Christmas or the New Year, but when Starpool saw the opportunity to host a "Skanksgiving" this year, they decided to take it.

He says Ska Luau is such a community event for the scene because it's all-ages and brings together local ska fans and supporters.

"I like to call it our end of the year party," Meade says. "Ska Luau is an all-ages, family-friendly live concert where you can dress how you want and be yourselves while you dance and skank to some of your favorite bands. What other yearly themed show can parents bring their kids to and have fun with them to music they can all equally enjoy?"

Ska Luau featuring Starpool, Suburban Legends, Half Past Two, Skapeche Mode, For Pete's Sake at the House of Blues in Anaheim, 400 W. Disney Way #337, (714) 778-2583, www.houseofblues.com/anaheim. Sat. Nov. 25, 7 p.m., $10 in advance from select bands or $15 at the door. All ages.

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