OC Music Awards: Night 5 Becomes A Not-So-Subliminal Tribute to Sublime

Categories: OC Music Awards
Mary Bell / OC Weekly
Wheeland Brothers

Last night, the fifth installment of the Best Live Band showcase for the OC Music Awards led us down the long and beaten path of rim shots, scatting guitar and melodic bass lines as rastafied rock acts represented themselves to the fullest. Why they always group bands of the same genre together on the same night is beyond me, but hey, it probably makes things a little easier for the judges. Watching slow tempos and euphoric vocals take over the night, I felt like this week's complementary Redbull should have been served out of an organic coconut.

The night started on a surprisingly high note thanks to Solution's well-executed stable of rasta pasta. Fronted by long-haired Jamaican ball-cap wearing front man Nick Papageorge, the band's metal-tinged twist on Steel Pulse reggae was an early crowd favorite. Considering the crowd that normally shows up to the Tiki Bar, the OCMAs really couldn't have picked a more perfect act for this showcase. We're not sure why, but finding a even a sliver of creativity in the over-saturated genre of white boy reggae is enough to win over some of OC's most jaded live music goers. In that regard, the soulful performance of this local four piece was definitely effective. Even the closing reggae cover of Ben E. King's "Stand By Me," which could've easily been a Jack Johnson style train wreck, was one of the most high energy songs of the night.

The second act, 80 Proof, though not as sonically compelling, had their showmanship down pat thanks to lead vocalist Evan Manriquez and dred-sporting keyboardist/ percussionist Alex Williamson who spent most of the set darting all around the stage, banging their heads and knocking over mic stands. Co-signed by presenting sponsor KROQ in recent days (their song "Runnin" was featured on Kat Corbett's Locals Only program), the band came out swinging and definitely kept us awake for the second hour of the night.

Mary Bell / OC Weekly

One curious addition to the mix was the unapologetic pop-punk sound of Seven Year War. Trotting out on stage like Rocket From the Crypt in their matching bowling shirts, the band's mix of Blink 182 and Guttermouth was pretty much an anomaly on stage. Not only because they were the only non-reggae inspired band on the bill, but because we had no idea pop punk was still, ya know, a thing. But for what it's worth, their performance was energetic and executed in earnest even if it did feel like high school all over again.

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