Manhattan's the Slackers wrapped up the last leg of their west coast tour following a three-night-stint at the famed Troubador in Los Angeles at the Slidebar Rock N Roll Kitchen in Downtown Fullerton on Sunday night. The third-wave ska act's stop in Orange County benefitted Fullerton's upcoming Day of Music festival; an annual affair that graces the streets of Fullerton with free music in bars, courtyards, parks and atypical venues throughout the city.
Fullerton's Day of Music, started in 2015, is inspired by France's La Fete de Musique which began in 1982. The day of celebrating live music both local and large is held globally on the Summer Solstice, June 21, yearly.
The city is known as a hotbed of musical inspiration in OC from the home of guitar-making god Leo Fender to the breeding ground of early punk rock that brought us Social Distortion to the base camp for Burger Records, the label of tastemakers that have created their own genre of music listened to worldwide.
Although booking acts perform for free at multiple venues between city lines is a labor of love, but is still no uncostly feat. The non-profit event holds fundraisers and seeks donations through the year to the cultural phenomenon alive and thriving.
Sunday's fundraiser began with the talent of Southern California singer Jackie Mendez. The front woman of a five-piece ska act channelled Save Ferris' bold singer Monique Powell with her stage presence and Crayola hair color and had the pipes of a young Gwen Stefani. She charged the early crowd with songs of love and loss (in English and en español), sung with gusto over rock-steady beats. Her high-pitched vocals induced goosebumps while the band's steady bass lines and drum beats got hips swaying. Her all-male backing band were styled in TUKs, Chucks and fitted black suits.
Then came the Slackers. The New York act from 1991 is currently on tour and stopped in to DTF with a message to you Rudy: “support local music!” The six piece orche-ska took a really special night and turned it into madness with their bass, brass and sass. Their white-suited bass player thumped his fingers on an upright like a fashionable Yo Yo Ska. The band's upbeat good vibes got about half the crowd skanking and singing along and really took the crowd one step beyond.
The Slackers vocalist Vic Ruggiero said of the fundraiser in a press release: “We have long enjoyed being in Orange County, and Day of Music Fullerton is a fantastic event to be a part of. The future for all of us is interconnectivity and music, and Day of Music Fullerton brings that key essence together for everyone in Orange County. It’s a great cause for the city and for the Slackers.”
The band played their own hits alongside covers of Madonna's “Like a Virgin” and a little ditty of “When the Saints Go Marching In” during the encore. They donated their time at this show directly to Day of Music with all monies from the $20 tickets going directly to the DoM purse. Knock on wood the night raised enough funds to give Day of Music Fullerton a running start into 2017's event.
Any other ska-related puns I missed? Feel free to leave them in the comments. Huh, huh, huh, give it up!