Half Past Two Put Quality Time into OC’s Ska Scene

Half Past Two (Credit: Michelle Alvarez)

They’re loud, they’re bold, they’re entertaining and they’re Orange County ska’s best kept secret! For over a decade, Half Past Two has been one of OC’s long-running well-respected ska bands. Coming from the mecca of third-wave of ska, that’s an accomplishment in itself.

Half Past Two calls OC their home and they bring a blend of ska, rock, reggae, and pop punk to the masses. This band presses the button and sends us back in time with their soulful two-tone ska sound or with a nice slice of third-wave ska-punk. Their sound also takes us into today’s fourth-wave sound that ska fans have been craving. Through various lineup changes, the core lineup remains intact with lead singer Tara Hahn at the helm. The thing about this band, they don’t just invest in themselves, they are part of the fabric that is the OC Ska community. We often hear how scenes in each genre in every part of the world has its backbone. No doubt, Half Past Two has become a major part of the OC music scene.

You see band members at local ska shows, industry events or private events regularly. They go to support all the other ska bands making music. “OC’s ska community is small and very close,”  lead singer Tara Hahn says. “We’re friends and always support each other, and we need to keep the energy up. We want people to come to shows and feel the power behind this scene.” That’s what’s striking about the fan-base here, they really know good music and they’ll let you know if they like you. They’ll also let you know if you suck, or you’re disingenuous in any way.  In OC, to be legit, you literally have to be legit and the fan base keeps all the bands honest. As a result of that standard, Half Past Two has earned the respect of other band’s and fans alike. The kind of respect that money and no advertising campaign or record company can’t buy.

Credit: Michelle Alvarez

This band has been doing it for 10 years and the current lineup is dynamic and has some of the best musicians in town. Collectively, the band brings a soulful yet electric sound. The bandmates include Max Beckman on guitar / vocals, David Parris on keys / guitar / vocals), the electric sound of Cameron Hallenbeck on lead guitar), Mark Anderson on Bass, Dan Evans on drums, Jordy Coutin (Trumpet), Jack Sneddon (Trombone), Din Fernandes (Baritone Sax) and Hahn as the band’s charismatic lead vocalist. Their imagination creates a sound and vision that is distinctly their own.  True, the band has accomplished musicians, but their stage shows really separates the from others. They’re engaging, you can tell they’re having fun, but truth-be-told, Hahn is a dynamic entertainer. There having been a few legendary female-leads that have come out of the OC; and Hahn has the voice, the talent and the personality to entertain any crowd at that elite level.

Despite all the love for ska in the 90’s, the past few years have been tough to say the least for the genre. Luckily, things that go out of style eventually come back. It’s sticking it out when you’re in a band during a down time in any genre, that’s the toughest gig of all. The sun started to shine again on the world of ska a few years ago. With the success of fourth-wave ska bands like The Interrupters, ska themed festivals like Back to the Beach, and the resurgence of ska royalty like the Specials… ska is definitely back in the limelight.

Through it all, the band definitely paid their dues. They’ve gone on tour with ska legends Reel Big Fish and The Toasters. They’ve opened for other ska juggernauts like The Aquabats, English Beat, Selecter, Less Than Jake and RX Bandits. AND, with their strong connection to the OC, media highlights include credits that had their music was featured in the 2016 Gary Busey and C. Thomas Howell indie movie “Confessions of a Womanizer.” Hahn turned in a featured role in the 2015 two-tone ska 80’s retro-film, “Rudeboy.”  Their music has also been heard on local radio stations KROQ, TNN RADIO, KX935 and the Ska Parade.

Credit: Michelle Alvarez

Now that it’s cool to be into ska again, Half Past Two are that band we can all be happy that they stuck it out. They’ve developed a great following of fans, and now they’re about to have their 10-year anniversary party at the House of Blues celebrating their inaugural album It’s About Time. Additionally, they’ll be playing their ska inspired new single of the Gotye cover, “Somebody That I Used to Know.” The single features another local favorite, lead singer, Evan Wohrman of Hooray for Our Side. The night will be an event not just a show. Their fans can expect great music, featuring songs like “Girl in a Band” and “Lyin’ Eyes.” Also expect those volcanic outfits with every kind of hat imaginable, and you might just see an astronaut’s space helmet in the mix.

It’ll definitely be a great night of music and entertainment. If anything, Half Past Two is living proof that with talent, you can succeed if you always look forward instead of looking over your shoulder. By having a great sound, loyal fans and most importantly, character, this band is a good reason music fans from coast-to-coast and around the ska world admire Orange County. 

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