After a handful of successful years playing promoter and host for Musink every March, Travis Barker decided it was time to add a second punk rock festival to his spring schedule. That’s when Back to the Beach came into play, and last year’s rendition offered weekend-long beachside festivities for punks of all shapes and sizes.
Headlined by Blink 182, The Used, and over a dozen other past and present punk rock bands, Back to the Beach is a bit of a tribute to the SoCal scene that raised stars like Barker, Goldfinger’s John Feldmann, and all of the others who are responsible for putting on the annual festival. Rather than focusing the show solely around their peers, it’s also become a way to connect multiple generations of punk rockers for an event that could really only happen in Orange County.
“We’ve been [bringing punk rockers together] for years with Musink, and I feel like Back to the Beach has kind of become like Musink — except it’s on the beach, doesn’t have tattooing, and it’s a little more family-oriented,” Barker says. “We want to give back to the community that we were brought up in, and Orange County really bred punk rock and ska music. Being able to have these shows and festivals here while including those Orange County bands is really special.”
For Barker, festivals like Back to the Beach are a little extra special because they allow him to show off a side that the world doesn’t see every day. As one of the most high-profile drummers of the 21st century, working behind the scenes to bring Musink and Back to the Beach to life gives Barker the chance to figure out the art, music, activities, and other aspects that he otherwise likely wouldn’t concern himself with. Considering his previous success away from the stage in ventures such as Famous Stars and Straps and Musink, it’s no surprise that the famous percussionist enjoys his curatorial duties.
“I’m playing [drums] every day — whether it’s in the studio or getting ready for shows — but it’s fun to work on these festivals too,” Barker says. “Back to the Beach is fun, and I’m just curating all of the art and merch and stuff. That’s a big part of what I do with these festivals, and it’s another area that I love to curate and just watch come together.”
Of course, along with the selection of bands, art, and entertainment, the biggest selling point of Back to the Beach is the venue itself. While it’s not the only music festival that takes place literally on the beach, it’s become the clear leader for punk rock parents looking to bring their kids out for a weekend in Huntington Beach. And unlike some of the others that focus primarily on selling beer to the adults while the children dig in the sand, Barker believes that he and the rest of the team have put together an amazing experience both with the lineup and the family-friendly activities this year.
“It’s on the beach, so I can’t think of a better area to have a show or a festival,” Barker says. “There’s always a big part that’s just for kids, because it’s very family-oriented. Every year, we put our heads together to figure out what kinds of activities we can do for the whole family. Last year was amazing, and I feel like this year’s lineup even outdoes last year’s lineup.”
The real beauty of Back to the Beach though is that it’s still a solid punk rock festival at its core, and it’ll provide the kind of low maintenance, high energy fun that Southern California so desperately craves after dealing with two straight weekends of Coachella mayhem. As Barker sees it, there’s really only one thing guests should know to have a good time on April 27-28.
“Bring sunscreen, but that’s pretty much all you need.”