by David Garcia
This Friday night, Orange County's sand and surf rockers, The Wheeland Brothers, make their return to Santa Ana with a hometown show at The Constellation Room. Joining the beach-and-burrito lovers will be San Diego's female-fronted reggae sensation, HIRIE. Both bands bring a high-energy performance with the occasional mellow acoustic track, which makes for another great showcase of Cali reggae at OC's premier music venue.
Brothers Travis and Nate "Frogg" Wheeland began officially recording music in 2010, following an inspirational trip to the island of Kauai. Living their lives and relating their experiences through music inspired by what seems to be a mixture of a Spicoli-like lifestyle and the chorus of Sublime's "Doin Time" playing endlessly, the duo has found a way to spread their music far beyond their Southern California home base.
Since the July 2013 release of their second full-length, Muchos Mahalos, the brothers — joined by Marcus Agundes on bass and Eric Bumb on drums — have enjoyed loose touring combined with appearances at major festivals across the country such as High Sierra, Summer Camp, Firefly, and Wakarusa. More recently, the band released a new single titled "Summer Stars" in August, while also dropping the official music video for "Like You Do" a few weeks ago, which stars USA Surf Team member Tia Blanco. The vegan pro surfer from California is also featured in the band's music video for "In With The Newport."
Travis, who is fresh off a month-long trip to Thailand, joined up with the rest of the band this past Tuesday as The Wheeland Brothers played direct support for Ziggy Marley at The Catalyst in Santa Cruz. According to Travis, this Friday's show is "sure to be full of surprises, good vibes, and great music."
Opening the night will be HIRIE. After recently completing their second nationwide tour in the very short time the band has been together, the single-named lead singer and acoustic performer Trish, says that she has seen HIRIE's fan base multiply across the U.S. firsthand from the stage.
"The band and I were humbled by the number of people who came out singing our music," she says. Trish also gave an explanation of how much her first tour with Tribal Seeds and Fortunate Youth prepared her and the rest of the HIRIE musicians for their latest nationwide run with Stick Figure and OC locals, Pacific Dub.
"Everything we learned from our first national tour, we applied to our second," she says. "I've learned to stay focused and true to myself. To remain clear minded when it's important, and have fun at all times possible. Sleeping is key, and laughter is medicine when sleep isn't possible."
Having already played at The Observatory a few times in the not-so-distant past, HIRIE has taken a liking to the Santa Ana music venue formerly known as The Galaxy. "The Observatory is a serious music venue. You go there for the environment and the experience. I feel the same way from behind the stage, on the stage and off," she says. "It's such a big venue, which you can pack out and fill with incredible vibes. I was fortunate to support a lot of great artists there, and look forward to one day headlining the main room myself. A girl's gotta have goals." HIRIE will be bringing a lot of new arrangements to the stage this weekend along with new music off their 2015 sophomore album, which is currently in the works.
The two rising reggae artists meet again when The Wheeland Brothers and HIRIE play at B Ryder's Rockin' Sports Bar in Bakersfield on Wednesday, December 10. Don't forget to catch the two acts this Friday as they bring their own style of aloha to the stage for an all-ages performance to kick off the weekend.
The Wheeland Brothers perform with HIRIE in The Constellation Room at The Observatory, 3503 S. Harbor Blvd., Santa Ana, (714) 957-0600; http://www.observatoryoc.com. Fri., 7:30 p.m. $10. All Ages.