Suburban Legends and Goldfinger Are Still Riding High During Ska’s 4th Wave

Suburban Legends (Credit: Michelle Alvares)

It was just two years ago that I wrote an article about the 4th wave of ska. There wasn’t an exact date, but we knew it was coming. The locals believed that once a new Ska tune got back on the radio, the ska world would be in vogue all over again.

On July 26, 2018, the band we tagged as the conduit for the next wave of Ska had their inaugural appearance on Jimmy Kimmel. The Interrupters killed it that night, and they are getting their much-deserved props. The song that’s getting all the buzz is called “She’s Kerosene” and it’s being played on radio stations from coast-to-coast and around the world. Many believe that song is the trigger everyone in ska-land has been waiting for. The question is: What’s next? Since OC has been the mecca for 3rd wave ska, it’s fair to say that the 4th wave will kick off this Saturday night at the House of Blues, Anaheim. Goldfinger is the headliner, a great band no doubt; and there’s also Buck-O-Nine, they too are a pillar of the Ska world… But, the band that has been a staple in the OC Ska community is Suburban Legends.

When you think OC ska, sure, names like No Doubt, Reel Big Fish and Save Ferris stand out… but to truly know the OC ska story, you should look towards SL. They are dubbed a ska-punk band, but they are so much more. Over the years, sonically, they’ve incorporated alt-rock, funk, disco and pop into their repertoire. Add songs from Disney films and TV series and you’ll get a good idea of what this band sounds like. Even though they are great musicians, they have become international stars because they’re also fantastic entertainers. In those early days, they were influenced by local favorites Reel Big Fish, and Boingo. Add Michael Jackson to the mix and you get where their entertainment hat came from. Today, SL is one of the most successful live acts you’ll see anywhere. Not only do they pop out great songs, but the guys simply dance, dance and then dance a ton more. Their choreography is nothing short of Earth, Wind & Fire-esque. That’s as high a compliment I can pay any band. If you don’t know who that is, you really need to Google them to get an idea of just how badass and entertaining this band is.

Over the years, SL has been a mainstay playing shows everywhere on the planet. No matter how popular they got across-the pond, they’ve never got caught up in their own notoriety. They’ve never forgotten their roots and always make time for Orange County. They made regular appearances at OC’s Ska Luau with local icons, Starpool. They’re also regulars at Downtown Disney. They’ve also performed on many occasions for the X Games Xperience promotion at Disney California Adventure. We can laugh about this now, but one of the things that happened twice was that the band got their Tour Bus broken into and had over $80,000 in equipment stolen. Luckily, things like that are now in their past.

The band has had its challenges over the years, including lineup changes. The current incarnation has been together for a bit now. The current cast of characters features: Vincent Walker (lead vocals, and great entertainer), Chris Lucca (trumpet), Brian Robertson (aka Robot, the Dude can dance), Brian Klemm (insanely good lead guitarist / vocals), Brad Polidori (badass bass player), and Ed Larsen (drums); Ed is also the drummer for Reel Big Fish.  There are a variety of reasons why their fans love their music, some fan favorite songs are “Autumn in the Park”, “You’ve Got a Friend In Me”, “High Fives”, “Favorite Face”, “Don’t Wanna Wait”, “Forever in the Friend Zone”, “Can’t Stop It, Desperate”, “Just Be Happy”, “High Fives”, “Gummie Bears”, “Zanzibar”, “Bright Spring Morning” and “Zanzibar”. Some favorite covers are “Under the Sea” (The Little Mermaid), “I Just Can’t Wait to be King” (The Lion King), “Kiss the Girl” (The Little Mermaid)… it has a very funny video and then there’s “Colors of the Wind” (Pocahontas). There’s also the non-Disney covers you may hear from time-to-time; “On the Outside,” “Celebration” (Kool & the Gang), “Higher Ground” (Stevie Wonder / Red Hot Chili Peppers), “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” (Frankie Valley / Muse), and “Sweet Caroline” by the incomparable Neil Diamond.

On a more serious note, what truly endears this band to the OC music community is their passion to support a variety of causes. Most of all, their support for causes that involve children. SL was instrumental and a focal point during a much-publicized cancer bout with one of their youngest and most devout supporters, Carter Ankeny. Carter was a great spirit who embodied what is good about life, and music. The band put on benefits and did everything humanly possible to help with the cause up to the day Carter passed. The community hurt for some time, and still reels in the loss; but, SL and a few other bands have been the glue that keeps everyone together. That is the reason they are so beloved by the locals. Not just for the music, but for being good and down-to-earth people who care about the right things. Their passion translates into their performances that have garnered them international fame. People, in general, who don’t care about results will most definitely attain it. By not looking to see what is best for their career, by doing what is right, they have become the main reason OC is the mecca for music that it has become.

Another reason this show may be made for you is another successful band playing the HOB is called Buck-O-Nine. This band is from San Diego, but they’ve frequented the OC and L.A. ska scene for years. They are best known for their Mega-hit, “My Town”, but these guys also put on a dynamic and electrifying, high-intensity show. Like SL, they too bring more to the table than being dubbed a ska-Punk band.  This band is also a definite must see.

Goldfinger (Credit: John Gilhooley)

In the end, Goldfinger is the draw. The band formed in ’94 during the heyday of 3rd wave ska-punk. This band is as professional as it gets; they’re loud, they’re jolting and they can make you dance! Goldfinger is an interesting band. Sure, they’re a ska band, but they bring a robust alt rock sound to the table. They’re so polished, their music is still played on mainstream radio. Songs like “Here In Your Bedroom”, “Superman”, “99 Red Balloons” (Nena cover), and “More Today Than Yesterday continue to engage us.  

What’s also endearing about Goldfinger, like SL, they too champion causes. Feldman, in particular, besides being a very sharp-dressed man…. he’s a champion of animal rights. That’s the thing about Feldman, he cares, and he’s accomplished. Not only is he the lead singer in this kick-ass band, he also cares about our fuzzy children, AND he also produces music for other bands. He recently produced Blink 182’s seventh studio album, California, which earned them both their first Grammy nod for Best Rock Album. In addition to all this, he also organizes great festivals. Earlier this year, there was Back to the Beach. Feldman put on this festival with his pal Travis Barker (Blink 182 and formerly of the Aquabats). All props to Feldman and Barker as many believe that event helped lean the 4th wave ska movement into reality.

No matter what Ska is, 3rd wave, 4th wave… whatever; one thing is certain, it’s always been about being part of a family and having a good time.Needless to say, the 4th wave of Ska is here, and the future looks very, very bright.

Goldfinger and Suburban Legends perform Saturday, September 1st at the House of Blues, Anaheim.

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