SHOW REVIEW: NYC Ska Mob Tour (Skinnerbox, Slackers, Stubborn All-Stars)
Club Laga-Pittsburgh, PA (11/16/97)
By: Jeff Lockwood
Ska seems to be very popular in the city of Pittsburgh. I am not sure if it is because of the blue collar roots of the city or because ska is just so much damn fun. We all know that there are plenty of bands that have horns and ska beats. But the bands that played tonight prove that ska is "much more than a bunch of kids playing horns over punk rock." This is what Jeff Baker, singer and trombonist for Skinnerbox and Stubborn All-Stars, had to say about things.
NYC was definitely in the house on this night before Thanksgiving. Skinnerbox started out the night. Their set had a good groove going and gave the audience a nice treat. But for some reason, Jeff Baker seemed to be very pompous on stage. His singing was fine and his horn blowing, and tooting (if you know what I mean), was extremely solid. He bothered me. Besides my opinion of Baker, Skinnerbox did NYC ska justice.
The Slackers were fun. They had more of a Rock Steady feel. The keyboardist had some great lead and backing vocals. His Tom Waits style was a fantastic compliment to the band. The lead singer had a different percussion instrument for every song and he gave energy to the band and the crowd. I plan on buying some of their recordings as soon as I have money. Oh yeah, it cost thirteen bucks to get in. As good as the show was, that is way too much money.
Stubborn All-Stars were the main reason that I put off a five hour drive to my parent's house for the holiday. This is basically a supergroup for the ska genre. Just about every true ska band is represented here. The All-Stars tore through new tunes and had the whole house dancing with old ones. They even threw in some covers by The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. Alright! This was the biggest line-up of the evening. There were three horn players, two guitarists, one bassist, two keyboardists, one drummer, and one percussionist. I must say that my negative feelings toward Jeff Baker were erased during this set. His croonings almost made me wish that my girlfriend was around so I could ask her to dance.
This tour, and the whole NYC ska scene for that matter, seems like a big family having fun together. It seemed like there was just a revolving door policy for the evening. Let me put it this way. Only one ska band played tonight. They just took breaks to change their name and re-arrange some equipment. I say this only because all of the members of the tour were either present in each band, or at least made a special appearance for a song or two.
The sound was great, but because of Pennsylvania's stupid alcohol laws, and Laga's industrial setting, I felt like I was in jail when I went to get a beer. It was a great show even though it cost me $13.