April 20th, 2007


On Vox: Big ska

The Aggrolites show last night was off the fucking hook. Their set was simply awesome from start to end. As a live band, they're super tight, and the amount of energy that comes off that stage is enough to push you over. I've never seen a band just go the fuck off like that and maintain their musicianship. Every song just brought the energy level higher and higher. Just when you think the place would explode, they'd back it off a bit, for just one song. After that, they'd come back at you like a supercharged explosion of sweet reggae and ska.

They busted out a handful of songs from their new album that comes out in June. One of them was so-so (for them), which is to say that it was great, but didn't blow me away. The rest of them just ripped me in half. As if this band couldn't be any cooler and more tailored to my tastes, these new songs feel like they have more of a northern soul influence to them. I can't wait to hear what the finished versions sound like. If you think Amy Winehouse is the only one dropping some gritty old-school soul music, then you ain't heard nothing yet. No offense to her, though. She's pretty incredible.

Somehow, mostly by natural forces, those of us in the ever-shrinking vintage scooter scene grouped together in the crowd. At one point I leaned over on Barry and said, "Hey look! It's a half-dozen vintage scooter riders dancing together at a ska show! It's just like the old days!!" It brought a huge smile to my face and a ton of memories to my brain.

In the mid-90s or so, in the height of the 3rd wave of ska, there were tons of bands playing. There were three pretty decent ska bands just in Phoenix. The guys in these bands had a standing show on Wednesday nights at a local club called Boston's. Every week, one of our local bands would play with one or two other bands that were touring through. I can't possibly remember all the bands that played those nights, but some of the greats were Hepcat, the Toasters, the Pietasters, the Scofflaws, and the Skatalites. A group of 10 or 15 of us would meet up at a bar somewhere when we got off work, hang out for a while, and then ride our scooters together as sort of a mini-scooter rally to the ska show. We'd line them all up right in front of the club, pay our ten bucks, and go inside and dance to ska bands all night while drinking $2 Newcastles. Afterwards, some of us would rally up a group of friends, scooter people, rude boys, skinheads, band members, and club employees and head up the street to the all night diner where we'd sober up until around three before heading home to get some sleep before getting up for work at 7. Those days are some of my most cherished, and it was nice to have a tiny piece of it back last night.

I'm sore as hell today. I lifted weights yesterday (I'm doing that once a week now) and pushed a little hard, and then went to the show and danced my ass off for the whole set. I'm not going gently in to that old age, I guess.

Originally posted on pop.vox.com