I love ska. Someday, when I grow up, I want to be in a ska band. What could be more fun? No pretension, no taking yourself too seriously, just horns and guitars and dancing.
Anyway, I got older last week. Some people get really wrapped around the axle about birthdays, but I try to embrace them–what better way to celebrate getting older than by getting in touch with that skankin’ kid inside of me? Enter: Summer of Ska. Four fun, energetic bands.
First up was The Maxies. They were ridiculous, fun, and from Greenland. They weren’t ska, but they were everything a pop-punk/rockabilly/Greenlandish band should be when touring with a bunch of ska bands. Plus, they looked like this:
Sometimes when I go to see a band I really love, it’s hard to get excited about the opening act–not the case with The Maxies. They were pure energy with a heavy dose of humor. As the Summer of Ska tour came to a close, they were full of jokes and jabs for the other bands. I loved ’em. Definitely going to buy the album.
And they had a polar bear on stage…seriously, what’s not to love?
Here’s a video for their song “Sandy”
Next up was Suburban Legends. I had been hearing a lot about them, but hadn’t heard any of their songs. They were great. Ska mixed with Pixie Sticks and Rockstar energy drinks. The ticket price was worth it just to see their horn section go wild with choreographed dancing and fully acted out skits whenever they weren’t actively blowing into their instruments.
Suburban Legends was the fun, friendly ska that makes you smile and dance. They do a cover of “I Just Can’t Wait To Be King” from the Lion King soundtrack and have songs about how much they love their friends. The sound was awesome, the energy on stage was outstanding. I bought the album directly after the show and listened to it on repeat until the new Reel Big Fish album showed up in my mailbox.
Here’s the video for “Infectious” where you can see some of their fancy footwork:
On to Big D and The Kids Table. I used to listen to these guys in high school, and after seeing them live, I’m a little bummed that I let myself stop. Something was a little off with the sound during their set and it made the vocals a little hard to hear, but they brought a harder sound to their music, while not shying away from reggae/rocksteady and old school ska.
High energy, of course–and a fun look at Boston’s ska sound. Definitely different from Suburban Legends and Reel Big Fish, both from Orange County.
Plus, their set featured a large man with a ukelele. It doesn’t get better than that.
Here’s their video for “My Girlfriend’s on Drugs”
Last, but most certainly not fucking least, REEL BIG FISH.
I’ve been listening to this band long enough to feel horribly old when I tell people how long I’ve been listening to this band. I first saw them live almost fifteen years ago. I have to admit, after managing to miss them on tour for a few years running, I was worried about how they’d sound, if they’d have the same energy on stage, if I’d love them as much as I’d always loved them.
They rocked my face off. Or…ska’d it off.
High energy? That doesn’t really communicate what RBF still has going on after all these years. Most of my pictures were slightly humanoid blurs of light and color. They ran around, skanked, jumped, and had a fucking blast on stage without missing a single note. That’s a big enough accomplishment for a three-piece band, but RBF is boasting six members in their current line up.
If Suburban Legends was fun to watch because their horn section’s well thought out dancing, RBF’s horn section is fun to watch, because it’s never particularly clear if they planned anything they did on stage.
They packed in all the crowd favorites from seven (that’s SEVEN) albums, and kept the humor up. I thought I would miss the verbal ping pong between Aaron and former trumpet player Scott K, but this band has such good chemistry, it’s hard to imagine that the line up has ever changed. After three bands, I really thought my old ass was done dancing, but RBF put on such a good show I jumped around and danced until I literally couldn’t feel my feet anymore. It’s impossible not to.
Reel Big Fish always brings the fun, the dancing, the catchy tunes–and the angry lyrics that are just too much fun to sing along to.
Aaron Barrett runs around like a rabbit on speed while expertly fingering his guitar, and jumping to the mic just in time to sing the next chorus or verse, and manages to have an awesome rhythm with the laid back bass player, Derek Gibbs. It was really cool to watch them get it on when their on stage personas couldn’t be more different.
Also, this happened:
That’s one of the guys from Suburban Legends in man panties, chaps, and a wig. If you were wondering.
This tour couldn’t have had a better line up with better chemistry. Of course Reel Big Fish owned the place, but each band brought something really fun and unique to the table. And since I have been photo-bombing the hell out of this post already, here’s my favorite photo I took all night, wherein Aaron Barret looks like Elvis Costello:
I could go on and on about how great this show was, and I guess I sort of have already. The take home message here is that if you ever get the chance to see any of these bands live–do it.
Here’s Reel Big Fish’s video for “Don’t Start A Band”
All the shitty photos are mine. All the awesome videos are not. Go figure.