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Starpool’s 2nd Annual Ska Luau at House of Blues
Written by Brittany Woolsey   
Sunday, 01 January 2012 01:06

The House of Blues Anaheim was transformed into a tropical paradise on Friday night. Adorned with tiki posts, palm trees and enough Hawaiian-printed shirts to make Elvis’ head spin, the venue served as, yet again, the perfect place for Starpool’s Annual Ska Luau. Joined by other Southern California ska rockers Suburban Legends, Half Past Two and The Skank Agents, along with the Magnolia Polynesian Club, the night served as a great end to the year.

Kicking off the night, and like at last year’s luau, the Magnolia Polynesian Club set the mood for the evening by showing off a number of dances from Tahiti, Hawaii and other islands. Their performance was a fun introduction for the evening. However, the crowd seemed to get restless about half-way through because their set seemed a little long. Nevertheless, the young dancers showed talent as they shook their hips to fast rhythms, sang in foreign languages and played a variety of instruments.

The Skank Agents, from San Diego, had a sound almost reminiscent to Streetlight Manifesto. Combining punk and ska elements, the band proved that they are an upcoming band to watch out for. Complete with three saxophones and a trumpet, their horn section is a threat to all other up-and-coming ska bands, as each of them played solos and showed strong talent.

Half Past Two added a nice feminine touch to the evening, with Lindsey Smith (vocals) being the only female performer of the night (besides the Polynesian dancers). By combining ska and pop sounds, the band sounds a bit like ’90s ska band Save Ferris. Dressed in a grass skirt and flower headband, Smith commanded the stage as she danced and sang all around it. The show served as Country Dave’s (vocals/keys/guitar) last show with the band. He joked that his farewell speech didn’t get as much praise from the audience as Smith’s announcement that the band was giving away free merch.

Opening up with “Come Back Home,” Suburban Legends had the crowd dancing all throughout their set.  The band delighted fans with old songs, such as “I Want More” and “Don Juan,” including Vincent Walker (vocals) playing a trumpet like he did years ago in the band. The band also played their skanked-up cover of the viral internet video “Bed Intruder.”

“I feel like we’re in Waikiki,” Walker said, teasing the audience that they would play their track of the same name, like he does often at shows. Unfortunately, they didn’t play it, but instead surprised the crowd by playing a new song, “Dude Alert.” Suburban Legends announced the new song at the end of summer, but never played it until last night’s show. Needless to say, fans were thrilled and danced to the song that warns about some OC-esque douchebags.

“As long as there’s a ‘Dude Alert,’ there’s a four-minute, epic rock song waiting for you somewhere,” Walker joked. “Ladies and gentlemen, this I promise you, the rest of the [upcoming] album is ska.”

Suburban Legends finished strong with two of their most popular songs, “High Fives” and “Bright Spring Morning.” “High Fives” inspired everyone, including both the crowd and the band, to high five each other and “give props to the homies in the field.” And “Bright Spring Morning” was easily the biggest sing-along of their set, filled with positive lyrics about living life to its full potential, and ending with everyone swaying their hands in the air.

After Suburban Legends’ set, the crowd began chanting “Chocolate Penis!” signaling for Starpool to come on stage. When they finally did, the energy was high in the room.

Opening with “You Know You Want It,” Alan Meade (vocals) was constantly interacting with the crowd, jumping on top of the barricade and letting fans rub his bald head several times throughout Starpool’s set. Other members of the group, family and friends threw leis into the audience.

“[There were] big things in 2011,” Meade said. “It went by so quick, didn’t it?” Likely, Meade was referring to their first full-length album, “Living in Transition,” released in January, and a number of packed shows around Southern California. However, the band also announced that they have the opportunity to tour in Japan and Korea next year. They expressed their gratitude and shock because they were just a “ska band from Orange County.”

Revitalizing the sound of the ’90s ska scene, with former members of Save Ferris and No Doubt, the band had the crowd forming various skank pits throughout the dance floor.

“Any Mexicanos in the house?” Oliver Zavala (trumpet) asked the crowd.

With that, the band played “La Luna,” a Salsa-style song with Spanish lyrics, which Meade and Zavala sang together. Zavala dedicated the song to visiting foreign family members.

Like at other Starpool shows, the band hosted a male vs. female dance contest. To play off their gender-driven game, the band invited a girl with pink hair and a boy with blue hair onto the stage. The two battled, and the band deemed the contest a tie, awarding both fans with a copy of “Living in Transition” and a T-shirt.

Starpool also did their traditional encore, “T-bone Willy,” in which their trombonist of the same name crowd surfs to the upbeat tune. This time, however, he was dressed in a black bikini with bra padding and curly brunette wig, making the performance that much more hilarious.

Starpool also played Meade’s previous band’s, Freakdaddy, song, “Hawaii Theatre.” The band was joined on stage by former Freakdaddy member Jim Perkins for the song.

The performance concluded with a cover of the Isley Brothers’ “Shout,” with Meade dressed in a red cape and confetti sprinkling into the audience, embracing the party tone of the night.


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