This past Saturday night, I headed to my old stomping grounds of NJ to catch “Skanksgiving”, which featured some of my all time favorite ska bands playing a show together that could only be described as straight out of 1999. I headed to The Starland Ballroom for the first time since 2008 (which incidentally enough was also to catch Big D, Mustard Plug, etc). Let me just say, only in New Jersey does a 2000+ capacity venue almost sell out for a ska show. And since I’ve been listening to all these guys for nearly 15 years now, forgive me if I start getting a little nostalgic in my descriptions.
I fucking love Mustard Plug, and it’s been years since I’ve seen them. With perfect timing, I walked in right as these Michigan veterans were setting up. It became apparent that only about half of the crowd knew who they were, and the younger kids were trying to circle pit to the sweet sounds of the ska upstrokes, while us oldsters were content skanking off to the side (a recurring theme throughout the night).
They played an awesome set, albeit STILL not playing anything off of Yellow #5! I love that one, but they played Mr. Smiley so it’s all good.
Brain On Ska
Hit Me Hit Me
Life Is Too Short
On and On
Throw A Bomb
Big D And The Kid’s Table:
Along with Less Than Jake, Big D And The Kid’s Table are one of my all time favorite ska bands ever. The 18 year old ska nerd of me a decade ago wore a Big D wristband religiously, and I used to catch them every time they came around my hood. I’m not going to lie, I sort of lost interest after their change in direction with Fluent In Stroll, and I was a little worried they would be playing that style of songs more, but my fears were immediately put to rest.
Holy shit, Big D completely blew me away with their setlist, taking me way back with their selection of songs. Singer Dave, even after all these years was still as energetic as ever, and it just felt right to be at one of their shows again. While I was mostly skanking throughout their set, I couldn’t help but join the mosh pit for songs such as Take Another Look and What The Hell Are You Going To Do?
Setlist (Not complete or in order)
Take Another Look
What The Hell Are You Gonna Do
My Girlfriend’s On Drugs
She Knows Her Way
Less Than Jake:
Holy fuck Less Than Jake. What can be said about these guys besides the fact that they’ve been one of the longest running and most defining 3rd wave ska bands around? Sure, they flirted with pop for a few years with some of their releases and left a lot of their fans feeling alienated, but they soon fixed that and returned to their ska roots, and continue to make really good ska albums to this day. They still have a killer live show, full of energy, and have people of all ages singing and dancing along.
Never, at any show have I seen the majority of the oldsters in the bars off to the sides and in the back skank throughout the entirety of the set, but that’s the magic of Less Than Jake, they have the ability to transport us back to our teenage years, cut through the years of cynicism brought on by life’s bullshit, and have everybody of all ages singing along.
Less Than Jake played a hell of a good setlist too, making a fair mix of old and new songs (note: new for me is anything after Hello Rockview). They recently released a new album but surprisingly didn’t play too many off of it, opting to play their older songs instead (they stated at one point that they’ll be supporting and touring the new album for a few years, so there’s plenty of time for new songs).
I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have a giant smile on my face the entire time throughout the set, and even now as I type this this post.
Setlist (From what I remember)
Sugar In Your Gas Tank
Last One Out Of Liberty City
Look What Happened
History Of A Boring Town
My Money Is On The Long Shot
The Science Of Selling Yourself Short
Never Going Back To NJ
Five State Drive
All My Best Friends Are Metal Heads
How’s My Driving Doug Hastings?
Gainesville Rock City
Plastic Cup Politics