By: Kyle Cavaness
Save Ferris (aka Monique Powell and Friends)
July 27, 2013
After a ten-year hiatus, Save Ferris – or “Monique Powell and Friends,” according to some former SF members – headlined Saturday night at the Pacific Amphitheater at the OC Fair.
Orange County's long history with ska bands made a show at the fairgrounds a natural fit. Fans turning up for a Save Ferris “reunion,” unaware of the show's controversy, were treated to a solid re-creation of a local musical institution.
Lead singer Powell brought the fair onstage from the get-go, walking out with a corn dog and munching on a churro between songs, both of which she threw into the crowd half-eaten. Roadies unloaded a bag of beach balls into the audience halfway through the set, but few made it out of the first section, more valuable as keepsakes than playthings.
The band opened with crowd favorite “Spam,” from 1997's It Means Everything. Powell's vocals, despite being threatened recently by surgery, remained strong throughout the night, and the years (or maybe the churro) added a rock-and-roll rasp that she milked on several vocal solos.
The 15-song set drew almost exclusively from Save Ferris's two albums, It Means Everything and 1999's Modified. Powell introduced only one “new” song, saying the band had played it “a few times, ten years ago” before parting ways. '90s radio staples like “The World is New” and closer “Come On Eileen” drew the biggest cheers from the sunburnt crowd, which grooved and wobbled in the Pacific's narrow aisles as best they could.
Unlike that other girl-fronted-ska-turned-pop-rock Orange County band, Save Ferris has stuck to the sound that made them famous, running through what sounds today like a songbook of OC ska standards. The band played to that same image, down to the three-piece horn section with matching black hats and red polo shirts.
Opener The English Beat established the show's vibe early, running down ska-reggae classics like “Mirror in the Bathroom” and “I Confess” with a breezy British-ness that recalled the best parts of early Guy Ritchie movies.