Blooming Britannia


Photo by Emma Vezey
Young and the Damned

Photo by Emma Vezey
Young and the Damned

The Beatles and The Beach Boys are connected by their sensational pop success in America during the 1960s, but their origins are separated by an ocean. In the trail of John Lennon and Paul McCartney, British music artists are making their way across the Atlantic to Orange County once again.

On June 20, 2008, Coldplay, a rock band from London, was the first British band to take the number one spot on U.S. music charts in 11 years with their newest album “Viva La Vida.” Coldplay is just one of the many bands hailing from the island of rain and rice pudding that have infiltrated the American music scene, and Orange County is no exception.

“We host British bands as often as possible,” said Polly Walter, a manager at the House of Blues Anaheim. “And we’ve definitely had an increase in performances by British musicians over the past several years,” she said.

The House of Blues Anaheim, a concert venue in Downtown Disney, has hosted a variety of British bands, most recently showcasing The Kooks, Estelle and James and Tricky, said Walter.

Coldplay performed at the Honda Center in Anaheim on Nov. 25, and there will be a slew of performances from other English music artists later this month. Gothic rockers Sisters of Mercy will play at the House of Blues in Anaheim and experimental rockers Radiohead at The Grove of Anaheim.

Chapman has its own British band that performs regularly at venues such as The Viper Room, The Roxy Theatre and Whisky a Go Go. The Young and The Damned is led by Paddy Karr, a graduate film student, who moved to California last year from his home just outside London. Their music is inspired by British Invasion bands like Blur as well as The Smiths, Depeche Mode and David Bowie, said Karr.

Though they played with minor success in the U.K. for three years, the reception of their music in Orange County was far more positive, said Karr.

“Because you’re from somewhere different people automatically think you’re more special,” he said.

British Invasion bands like the ones that influenced Karr’s band, along with better-known ones like The Rolling Stones, originally bridged the link between American and British music. Their music, hailed as innovative in its style and message by American and British critics of the time, is still the inspiration for the majority of Britpop and Brit-rock bands of today.

“British bands have had a huge influence on the way American music has developed,” said Paul Simmons, a senior music major at Chapman. “I think they’re only just starting to get the recognition they deserve,” he said.

In the 1990s, Britpop bands like Oasis, Blur and Pulp spread their commercial success in the U.K. to the United States. Though this movement fell apart at the start of the millennium, the seeds that it had sewn within the American music scene remained. With bands like Coldplay and even The Young and The Damned at Chapman, they are finally blossoming.

“I’ve always thought that English music was at the forefront of the business and that America just takes a while to catch on,” said Karr. “But then again, I’m a Brit so I’m going to say that, aren’t I?”

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