I arrive just in time for New Riot, an energetic UK ska-punk band who are trying hard to get the crowd warmed up. At one point they divide the crowd for a ‘wall of death’ only to have no-one move when the track kicked in, leaving a big channel down the centre of the room. It’s a shame the crowd were so unresponsive, but it’s early on a cold Sunday evening – it’ll take more than a bit of shouting. Their sound is pretty derivative of Less Than Jake, but they do it well and they crowd at least show them some appreciation.
Next up are The Skints, who seem to be forever riding on the coat-tails of The King Blues, but tonight they don’t fit in quite so well. Their dubbed out punky-raggae vibe clashes somewhat with the sugar-coated bubblegum poppiness of the last two bands.
That said, The Skints play an excellent set, perfectly executed by all the members. The angelic front woman switches between instruments, from keys, flute to sax, and performs wonderfully in harmony with the lead vocalist/drummer behind her.
Added to that the tightest, fattest bass lines, and the charisma, and lyric skills of the guitarist this band have an amazing unique sound and the ability to play with such passion. If the NME catches on to them, they’ll be up in the charts in no time.
Next up are Suburban Legends, a band most people have only heard of thanks to the Reel Big Fish song dedicated to them. So, despite a wonderfully lively set the crowd still isn’t jumping about like you’d expect. Perhaps everyone is just dreading the morning.
This is a band that have clearly worked very hard on their show, and it shows. There are no mistakes, no problems, no stumbled words or slip-ups, in fact it’s a little too rehearsed, and comes of a little overdone at times. But at others, the simply ridiculous dance routines from the brass section are just hilarious, from pretend sword fights to leapfrogging about the stage. They really bring out the fun side of ska-punk, but unfortunately their songs just aren’t known to this audience, so the fail to set the place alight.
Something the Reel Big Fish do on their first note. The room is instantly turned into one heaving sweaty mess of people.
With such a rich back catalogue of songs, the band power through hits, fan favorites, covers and all the rest, each getting a huge cheer as they kick in. Starting with the appropriately titled ‘Sell Out’ the band seem to be in their element – there’s no choreography here, just a bunch of guys playing music and having a lot of fun while doing it. Covers of ‘Brown Eyed Girl’ and ‘Monkey Man’ really help to keep the mood lively, as does ‘S.R.’ the song about Suburban Rhythm. At the end of this, they ask the crowd to dance for them, and they do so with passion, then repeating the chorus the band proceed to play in a variety of styles – Disco, metal, and of course, country and western.
The energy coming from stage matches the audience, and everything RBF do is lapped up. As I watch I realize I am smiling, having not listened to ska-punk for a good few years it’s great to see a scene where there’s no fashion, no pretence, no bullshit. It’s what you see is what you get, and what you see is a room full of people having a lot of fun.
Review – Ben Duff
Photos – Katja Ogrin