I’ll admit it, it’s the year 2015 and I still shamelessly love ska and especially Mustard Plug. So much in fact, that I travelled 3 hours round trip to Brighton Bar, a small dive out in Long Branch NJ in order to get my skanking on since Mustard Plug was skipping over Philadelphia for some reason.
My girlfriend and I got there right as locals Teenage Halloween were setting up, and the place was decently packed for being an 18+ ska show.
I’ve never heard of these Asbury Park locals before, but Teenage Halloween had a decent amount of fans there for them dancing throughout their set. Even though they had horns and like 9 people in the band (including a banjo, etc) I’m hesitant to call them a ska band, as they were more of an indie-pop-punk-folkish band with horns than anything related to ska.
Indie folk isn’t exactly my cup of tea but I was told they sounded a lot like Nana Grizol. They’re young and definitely have potential, so if you’re into that music check them out. They don’t really have much online currently (besides like an acoustic song) but they did put on an energetic set and you should check out their live show.
Even though I’ve never heard of Backyard Superheroes, before they even started playing I could guess what they would sound like based on the name, sunglasses, mutton chops, and bowtie. I could guess they were your typical goofy but fun ska crew mostly influenced by bands such as Reel Big Fish and The Aquabats.
With an older guy on stage giving an intro speech running around with the setlist taped to his shirt, and the second they started playing had fans running around in superhero costumes it definitely was starting to feel like a bit of an Aquabats show.
The band ripped through their 3rd wave ska set as fans skanked throughout. Throwing in a few covers as well, including a ska rendition of The Bouncing Souls “True Believers” (we are in Jersey…) and the obligatory Operation Ivy cover.
Grand Rapids, Michigan’s Mustard Plug has been at it since 1991, and while they never reached the mainstream success some of the other ska bands of their time did (Less Than Jake, Reel Big Fish, Mighty Mighty Bosstones) they have been over time one of the most consistent and solid ska bands around. Every album in their discography is a great listen whether you’re going back from Skapocalypse Now or to their latest Can’t Contain It, and personally, they’re one of my favorite ska bands around.
Once Mustard Plug took the small stage and immediately opened into “Send You Back”, us older in the crowd immediately opened up a pit in front of the stage skanking throughout the entirety of the set. Ripping through all their classics and playing a nice mix from the majority of their albums (except Yellow #5 for some reason… they must really hate that album) the band put on a fun and energetic set.
Singer Dave took some shots at his own age “I can’t see the setlist because the font is too small for my old eyes. And my knees just feel like they’re going to give out at any minute and snap from under me from years of skanking.” and made sure to take a shot at the crowd’s age as well after a circle pit song and people were sitting down due to exhaustion in between songs: “Please stand up, you don’t have to dance anymore but don’t sit that’s just making us depressed”.
A fun set, Mustard Plug is still one of the best ska bands around and still put on a killer time.
Send You Back
Skank By Numbers
Away From Here
Brain On Ska
Time To Wake Up
Waiting Room (Fugazi Cover)
Aye Aye Aye
Life Is Too Short
Shakin It Up
Hit Me Hit Me
Vodka (not sure what this is… on setlist)
On and On