Anaheim, California (December 1, 2018) – There’s no any snow on the forecast for Southern California anytime soon, but inside the House of Blues Anaheim, Anaheim, CA, the holiday festivities are underway. Tonight, Save Ferris is kicking off the celebratory season with support from Mest, The Untouchables, and Hoist the Colors. It’s an all-ages show, and plenty of families have come to watch a night of punk and ska performances – even if they spend the evening steering clear of the circle pit that inevitably forms in the middle of the floor!
First onstage is Hoist the Colors, a Los Angeles, CA based Celtic folk punk band. Joshua Linden takes center stage, flanked by Sean Brandlin and Mark De La Torre on guitars; Fabian De La Torre strums bass while Camilo Barahona plays accordion and Tom Brem keeps the beat. Hoist the Colors upbeat, melodic tunes sound exactly like what you want to hear while enjoying a pint (or three) with friends at a raucous pub. By their third song, “Mourners“, the group has won over the crowd – heads bob along and feet tap the floor in time with the backing drum beats. Linden takes note of the swelling crowd in front of the stage, and voices his approval “It’s pretty crowded in here. Thanks for coming early – we thought we’d be playing to ourselves!” The audience laughs and the band launches in to the next rowdy tune. “Dancing With Ghosts” gets the showgoers dancing with each other, before Hoist The Colors take their bow and retreat backstage.
The stage is filled up by the eight members of The Untouchables. Jerry Miller, who’s sung in the band since their 1981 debut, stands tall on stage in his suit and hat, a commanding presence. Often called the first American ska band, The Untouchables are a mixture of soul and funk vocal stylings combined with the signature bass and pick-it-up rhythm of second wave ska, with a dash of mod revival and classic rock and roll thrown in the mix. The first song, “I Spy (For the F.B.I.)”, instantly energizes the crowd. Miller dances while he sings, clearly enjoying the night just as much as the audience. He leads them to clap along with the next tune, “Mandingo“, as he struts back and forth.
Miller surveys the people in front of him, “Some of you guys might remember this song. I think it came out before you were born, but if you remember it, sing along!” He’s right – most of the crowd seems to be too young to know the lyrics to “Free Yourself“, the band’s 1985 hit, but the song is so infectious that there’s not a person in the room standing still. Up on the balcony, people leap from their seats at tables to dance in the aisles. The Untouchables segway seamlessly in to “Wild Child“, keeping everyone shimmying. Too soon, the set is over, leaving the crowd cheering and calling for more!
Mest explodes on stage as if Red Bull runs through their veins, lead singer Tony Lovato singing out the first line of “Hotel Room” from 2001’s Destination Unknown. The crowd immediately begins to pogo jump in place, pop–punk muscle memory taking over. “Fuct Up Kid” from the same album quickly follows, as the band races around stage like pinballs, leaping and shredding with the enthusiasm of a band playing their first Warped Tour. The energy in the room stays high, as they blast through popular songs from the Mest back catalogue, including “Opinions”, “Mother’s Prayer”, “Drawing Board”, and “Hotel Room”.
Lovato mentions that he’s been busy recording the new Mest album – so busy, in fact, that he was in the studio on his girlfriend’s birthday a few days prior. The band is joined on stage by Lovato’s girlfriend, Michelle, and their son, and the room sings “Happy Birthday” to her. During this break in the music, Lovato mentions that the band with him on stage are musicians that he’s been touring with, and that the rest of the current official Mest lineup is locked up in a studio somewhere else. Official lineup or not, the guys on stage jump back into the set with a high octane, holiday appropriate cover of “Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer”. The set concludes with “Cadillac” and “Rooftop”, with Lovato asking the audience to surf their way to the stage. No one quite makes it to the front of the crowd, but Mest seems satisfied with the attempts made as they wave good night.
The house lights dim and the white christmas trees that adorn the sides of the stage begin casting a soft glow. Guitars and brass make their way on stage and begin playing, quickly joined by Monique Powell. Powell, looking the part of the perfect holiday hostess with her pencil dress and fire engine red bob, greets the audience with a suitably seasonal song. She kicks of the set with “Christmas Wrapping”, a tongue in cheek take on the song of the same title by The Waitresses. Powell grins at the audience at the song’s conclusion, saying “I’m so excited that I get to celebrate the season of Hanukkah with you! I won’t rub it in. You know, that I get eight presents and you just get one.” With a wink, she’s on to the next song, twirling her microphone and shimmying around the stage as she sings “Nobody But Me”.
During the next song, “Little Differences”, Powell slinks out of her pencil dress to reveal another sparkling holiday outfit underneath it, without missing a note. She repeats this feat several times throughout the night, each time unveiling slightly more risque attire, occasionally disappearing in to the wings between songs to don another dress – only to remove it again a few songs later.
In between the costume changes, Powell belts out song after song, including “Sorry My Friend” and “Lose Myself To You”. All the while, she’s shimmying around stage, dancing with the mic stand, writhing in the spotlight – if there was a grand piano on stage, you can bet that she’d be lounging on top of it. Sitting atop a speaker at center stage, she coyly relates a story about how in the ‘90s, she went home with an Australian man because she was under the impression that he was Heath Ledger, just because of his accent. “I’m kidding,” she smirks, as the band launches in to “I Know” off of the 10 Things I Hate About You soundtrack.
The crowd is loving every moment of the show, laughing, cheering, and dancing non-stop – people don’t walk to the bar for another beer, they dance their way over. A roar of approval fills the room when Powell says “We don’t do this next song too often anymore, because I’m f*cking 43 years old” and the first brassy notes of “Under 21” ring out. The audience is equally excited for “Turn It Up”, and are whipped into a full blown frenzy when “She Has A Girlfriend Now” and “Come On Eileen” are played back to back.
Save Ferris bookends the night with another holiday song, this time a ska rendition of “Here Comes Santa Claus”. Final bows are taken, and everyone heads home, full of good cheer.
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