Freestyle: Surf, skate and ska bonanza

Sep. 20, 2013 | 0 Comments

Ska rules! Black Square on tour in Japan, surrounded by fans. (Courtesy Black Square)

Ska rules! Black Square on tour in Japan, surrounded by fans. (Courtesy Black Square)


Lovers of surf, skate and ska: It’s your weekend. Tomorrow, Sept. 21, if you wish, you can soak it all in with a marathon of local film, music, swag and intoxicants that will stretch from grind time to nearly dawn. (Look for me — I’ll be the smiley one at 6 p.m., moshing at midnight and sleeping in the corner at 4 a.m.)

If you plan it right, you’ll do it up big and end up in Waikiki for “Once a Month Punk,” which celebrates its fourth anniversary on Saturday night. I love this event, on a monthly basis, and the anniversary parties are more of more.

Scenes from the Once a Month Punk anniversary show last year. (Star-Advertiser file)

Scenes from the “Once a Month Punk” anniversary show last year. That’s Black Flys/OAMP’s Simon “Sci Fly” Elbling hoisting a Grolsch with the Hell Caminos’ Michael Camino, top right. (Star-Advertiser File)

Attracted by loud, fast, take-no-prisoners punk rock, mosh pits, self-reliant attitude and dark flash? This is your night. Doesn’t matter if you’re new to Honolulu, here for a visit, just been stationed here, curious and never joined in or a longtime member of the posse; in this location, everyone’s welcome.

It takes place at Tsunami’s Waikiki, formerly known as the Waikiki Sandbox, which has been spruced up a little since the change — with the big improvement being a ladies bathroom IN the building rather than across the alley, woot!

Ringleader Simon “Sci Fly” Elbling, a longtime surfer and skater from the Venice, Calif./Dogtown school himself, is behind the noise and madness. What’s also cool is that he’s a humble guy, quick to credit the location, bands and even the sponsors who provide cut-rate Grolsch and on this night, Sailor Jerry’s to help keep “OAMP” flowing.

Elbling called in to note that this is the only punk show in Waikiki, making it a welcome attraction for both visitors and locals.

“It’s an outlet for these local bands to be seen by fans from all over the world,” he said. “It’s Waikiki and it’s local … I just love that.”

And while the club may have been spruced up a bit, the event remains a down-to-earth affair.

“We haven’t changed any of our seedy little back-room vibe,” Elbling said. Bands continue to play at the same level as the audience, meaning “the band is in the pit.”

The show is also a family affair. No, really. With longtime punk champion and proprietor Jason Miller’s two sons included in show-starters Random Wierdos, along with three girls, all 13 or younger — this party spans the generations.

Bands include the Quintessentials, 13th Legion, Felonious Punk, Mistermeaner, Pimpbot and Ska Queen (of Warsaw). There will be giveaways, including a Dogtown skateboard.

Best of all, the night is marked by the release of a first “Once a Month Punk” CD compilation with bands that have played at the event over the past four years.

“We’re not stopping,” said Elbling.

Check it out from 9 p.m. to 4 a.m. at Tsunami’s Waikiki, 2260 Kuhio Ave.; cover is $8. If you can’t make the show but want to check up on the CD or other “OAMP” gear, contact House of Flys Hawaii, the surf/skate shop in Waikiki, at 923-3597.

Black Square, from left, Evan 'Babyface' Lewis, Brian Kim, Taylor Rice, Josh86, T.R. and Jahred. (Courtesy Black Square)

Black Square, from left, Evan “Babyface” Lewis, Brian Kim, Taylor Rice, Josh86, T.R. and Jahred. (Courtesy Black Square)

ACROSS TOWN, “The Clampdown” celebrates the return of Black Square from a six-city, multi-venue tour of Japan that exposed the ska-punk rockers to an entirely new way of putting on shows. The show starts at 9 p.m. Saturday at Downbeat Lounge, 42 N. Hotel St.; cover is $5.

“It’s a welcome-back show, I guess,” said Black Square lead singer Josh 86 (aka Josh Hancock), who’s also an owner of Downbeat Lounge. “We’re getting back into the local element, in our home bar … with a good hour of music, old and new, and we’ll hopefully pick up some of that touring energy!”

In a video from an Osaka stop embedded at the end of this post, you can get some flavor of the Japanese tour, including the attention to detail that goes into presentation and the commitment to strange sounds that some of the Japanese bands on the scene display.

Josh 86 said the “livehouse” scene for concerts in Japan (at tiny clubs with names like Fuzz Rock Hall, Namba Rockets and Shimokitazawa Attic) is very different. The shows were distinguished by an elaborate set-up that called for lengthy run-throughs in advance, with expensive, quality sound systems and lighting. In exchange for the setting, bands often “pay-to-play,” then sell their own tickets to cover costs, though Black Square did not do that as a guest band.

The showmanship and attention to staging rubbed off on Black Square, Josh 86 said, inspiring the band to add Israel Kamakawiwo’ole’s beautiful “Hawaii ’78” to the set as lead-in music on the tour.

Some leftover swag from the tour will be on sale Saturday, including a good supply of women’s tank tops, which were apparently too immodest for Japanese fans.

Beaman, I Tramonti and Siblings will join in for the welcome back show Saturday, contributing gnarly punk, experimental indie rock and full-throttle hardcore. (Note: This will be your last chance to see Beaman for a while, Josh 86 said, as the band is going on hiatus.)

A still from one of the HI Sk8 short films. (Courtesy photo)

A still from one of the “HI Sk8″ short films. (Courtesy photo)

THERE’S A HUNGER for events that appeal to the skate/surf crowd: “HI Sk8 Films” is returning for a second year, so could become a long-running annual, too. The Honolulu Museum of Art is supporting the cause by providing a screen for this series of local short films that highlight skating in the islands.

Series curator and co-founder Travis Hancock, a team rider for RVCA and APB, chose works that would be attractive to skaters and non-skaters. Still, according to museum film curator Abbie Algar, the films come from a place of close identification between skater and filmmaker.

Flicks include a documentary exploring the life of Hawaii “skate ambassador” Sean Reilly, a short featuring Maui’s best young skaters and a piece on night skating I’d like to see.

“You get an intimate, insider’s perspective on a vibrant culture that is often misunderstood and misinterpreted,” Algar says, in the series’ announcement.

The festival kicks off on Saturday at the Doris Duke Theatre with a 6 p.m. opening night reception that includes food, wine, and beer for purchase. Opening night tickets are $12 general admission, $10 for museum members; the screenings start at 7:30 p.m. For additional screenings at 1, 4 and 7:30 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 22, tickets are $10 and $8.
Elizabeth Kieszkowski is editor of TGIF, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s weekly arts and entertainment section. Reach her via email at or follow her on Twitter.

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