Surf City Blitz brings Punk and Ska to Main Street

The temperature is going to be scorching for sure this weekend, but it’s the Surf City Blitz Festival that’s bringing the heat. For decades, Southern California has been a destination place for people from coast-to-coast and around the world. They come for the sun, the surf and the fun; and now OC, and Huntington Beach, in particular, is becoming a music mecca. Notwithstanding the juggernaut that is the House the Mouse built, in Anaheim, Huntington Beach has put on some pretty kick-ass shows the past few years. Most recently, they’ve put on Sammy Hagar’s, High Tide Festival; then, there was the punk and ska fan’s dream in Back to the Beach along with Punk in Drublic, AND the Like Totally 80’s Festival. Now, we’re about to witness history in the making.

It’s not every day you get to go to the beach with thousands of your closest friends and see potentially the greatest punk lineup ever assembled. You know, the bands that captivated our hearts, minds, and souls with their music and riffs, before the internet, social media, iHeart, iTunes or i-anything. I’m talking about the bands that we lived to stand in line to buy their tickets to see them at Gazzarri’s on the Strip, Madame Wong’s West in LA, Fender’s Ballroom in Long Beach, Goodies in Fullerton or at the Golden Bear right here in Huntington Beach. Remember when we used to hang out all night with our friends to buy their music at Tower Records? Thanks to Surf City Blitz, we can see some of our favorite punk and ska bands in one place.

On the heels of the very successful Cal Jam Festival with the Foo’s, 95.5 FM KLOS, teamed up with SGE and Moto Beach Classic to put on perhaps the biggest show to hit SoCal since the original Cal Jam or the US Festival. There is some background to understand how this all came to be. The truth is, there’s no way around this; but over the years, terrestrial radio has struggled. Some media outlets deserve the criticism they’ve received, while others are byproducts of some bad decisions made by their big brothers. That’s a graciously fair assessment, to say the least.

Luckily for us, there are a handful of local radio stations that have stepped up their game. KLOS is one of the stations that has brought radio back to the forefront of the music conversation. The classic rock station has been part of our history for a long time. Their roots actually go back to the ‘40s, but, they’re more known for their migration to rock in ‘69. Since then, the station has done it all. They’ve broken some of the biggest acts on the planet while providing us with the soundtrack to our life, AND don’t forget that iconic logo of theirs. Today, the station is owned by Cumulus Media, and they’re back at the top of their game. They produce one of the most successful morning shows around that features Frosty, Heidi and Frank. Behind the scenes, KLOS has a great staff that has led this radio revolution. A few years ago, they changed the world of terrestrial radio with the arrival of Program Director, Keith Cunningham. Unlike most of the stations that have earned their distinction and bad rap, KLOS has maintained a high level of respect and integrity. Immediately, Cunningham and staff embraced the challenges of today’s radio world. The thing about KLOS, they love their history and recognized what their history means to their fans. They don’t evolve based on the survey of the day, they play the music their fans want to hear, and support the bands they believe need support. It’s a simple concept, and they’ve pulled it off.

Noodles of The Offspring (Credit: Michelle Alvarez)

That all being said, Cunningham and the KLOS powers that be acknowledged that there’s more to radio than holding on to your glory days. Beyond that specter, they’ve reached out to the community to become a huge supporter of the California lifestyle. Of course, you’ll see them at cool classic rock shows, but you’ll also see them at shows like Stagecoach. Metal remains part of their bread and butter, but they’re supporting cool punk and ALT Rock shows too. These are the kind of shows you wouldn’t normally associate with a classic rock station.  Some of the shows they’ve put on have included bands like 311, Dirty Heads, Sublime with Rome, Korn, Marilyn Manson, and Rob Zombie. That in itself has raised the eyebrows of concert-goers throughout SoCal. What’s different you ask? You can see their support for comedy, after all, we could all use a little more laughter in our world these days. For the more important things, you’ll see them at events like Aids Walk. You can equally catch them at a pumpkin patch or trying to find homes for critters. That’s what makes these guys stand out. To stand out today, you have to have big and bold ideas. You also have the courage to pursue those ideas and make it happen. Needless to say, Cunningham and crew are making things happen.

SoCal wouldn’t be what it is without our own brand of music, and Surf City Blitz delivers. It features punk bands that personify SoCal, while also bringing us bands that are near and dear to the hearts of those in the OC music scene. It’s been a while since we’ve seen anything like this. This inaugural festival is a two-day experience of sight and sound. Night one is this Saturday, October 27th and you get to see The Offspring, Pennywise, Suicidal Tendencies, Fear, T.S.O.L., Snuff, Mad Caddies, and Voodoo Glow Skulls. The Offspring, Pennywise, and Suicidal Tendencies are three bands that are synonymous with SoCal Punk. They literally are world famous, and as a byproduct of their success, they’ve made SoCal punk world famous. Mad Caddies and Voodoo are staples in the Punk-Ska community. Voodoo, specifically, is a band that OC locals have supported for years. They may be from Riverside, but they’ve earned the respect that is typically reserved for OC bands.

Interrupters (Credit: Michelle Alvarez)

Night Two is Sunday, October 28th and that lineup features Social Distortion, Rancid, Bad Religion, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, The Interrupters, The Wrecks, Aaron Lee and Tasjan. Everyone knows the headliner; Fullerton’s number one sons, Social Distortion. Mike Ness has been a mainstay in OC and put Fullerton on the map. There’s also the punkers favorite dream band, Bad Religion. They too helped launch the world of SoCal punk into the punkosphere. There’s Punk-Ska legend Tim Armstrong and Rancid who will bring their songs of redemption that will pack the dance floor. With all these great acts, here’s something that just might surprise you. The band that may have the greatest impact is a band that’s from Los Angeles. They’re on a meteoric rise to stardom. They did Kimmel not long ago and killed it. They also have one of the most played songs on the planet right now (She’s Kerosene). The band is The Interrupters. The thing about them, they may seem to have come out of nowhere, but the locals know better. The Weekly has targeted them for uber-greatness for some time. The locals have supported them since they played The Slidebar back in 2014. Their climb has been epic over the last 24 months. Truthfully, it’s possible that over the next 24 months there may be a changing of the guard and this band may be the next face of Alt Rock, Punk and Ska. They may be the breakout band of the festival. If you’re going, definitely check them out.

Jim Lindberg of Pennywise (Credit: Michelle Alvarez)

The bands are even excited about this one. In a recent interview, Jim Lindberg of Pennywise told us that “the bands on this bill can all bring it! They’re the reason SoCal is the place everyone wants to come to start a band. I can’t wait to perform for our fans, and watch some of these other great bands.”  Noodles of the Offspring told us that “the lineup is like a homecoming; bands all know each other and everybody supports everyone. My favorite memory of the bands playing comes from when I was a kid. Back then, I loved listening to T.SO.L., I still do…if it wasn’t for them, there wouldn’t an Offspring.” That’s how important some of these bands on this lineup are. Social Distortion front-man, Mike Ness recently said: “To be part of an event like this that’s never be done is pretty Cool.”   As for the Interrupters, Kevin Bivona, he said ‘We are humbled to be on this bill with all these great bands we’ve looked up to for years.”

You know it’s a cool show when the bands talk about what impact the other bands on the bill have had on them. If you’re heading out to this show, just know since it’s a KLOS mega-event, you just never know who just might show up and pick up a guitar or mic, so be ready to be entertained. In Addition to the two days of kick-ass bands, they’ll be racing, custom bikes, art, drag racing, and a few other surprises. The festival will occur in conjunction with the Moto Beach Classic, which is launching a dirt track on the sand for the first time ever.  Since this is a “SoCal Lifestyle” event, the organizers didn’t lose sight of what’s important. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Junior Lifeguard Program and the Living Dream Foundation. They work to give terminally ill music fans VIP access to their favorite artists.

If you love rock, punk or ska, these two days are a must see and you can consider it a punk pilgrimage level event. This is going to be like Christmas in October. We may have to pay a small price to get into this one, but the value we’ll receive will be one of those monster events we talk about for years to come. Doors open at Noon each day, and the festival is open to all ages. Say what you will about radio stations, but lately, they’ve been getting it right.

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