A bit ago I found myself in a sweaty box fulla booze and tunes that dragged me kicking and screaming back to memories of my suspender wearing, chukka boots stomping high school self. The mid 90′s, for me at least, was a never ending pile of mixtapes full of Suicide Machines, Blue Meanies, Mustard Plug, safety pins in various parts of my body and never-ending apologies to my parents for dying their bathroom whatever color my hair was that week…. but I digress.
This particular night at The Black Forest played like one of those punk-ska mixtapes I so cherished in my younger years, starting off with Salem’s Skatter Bomb.
These kids play fast, rough around the edges, skankable punk stuff a la Choking Victim or No Cash. Good clean fun with a little spit in YR eye for good measure. One of the few good things I can think of to come out of Salem (now If they’d just move to Eugene or PDX… No really… join us), Skatter Bomb is solid, and a lot of fucking fun. I’m looking forward to seeing them again.
Smash Bandits (PDX) play Pop-ska/Party-ska that scratches that Less Than Jake/Reel Big Fish itch that, to be honest, I didn’t even realize I still had. From the first swell of the horns, I felt the stress and bullshit worries of life just melt away. All that mattered was the pint in my hand, the friends I was surrounded by and singing the fuck along.
Yo Adrian (PDX) was definitely the most punk oriented act of the night. Still leaning in the ska-flavored punk vein of Leftover Crack/Choking Victim at times, these guys know how to build a punk tune with enough hooks to leave you humming after it ends, but enough grit that you aren’t put off by the pop-sensibility of it all. Still moshable, still the perfect soundtrack to an “all in the name of a good time” bar-fight, Yo Adrian seems like they’ve got some staying power.
Eugene’s resident “Never Give Up! Never Surrender” ska band, Wetsock was as tight as ever. These guys do the damn thing as if the ska scene here were big, vibrant and bulletproof. Long now our staple ska act, Wetsock hold the shit down so damn well, it’s intimidating*
It was refreshing to see something that is more or less a part of my past, still a valid, active part of someone else’s present, and though, my ska ship has more or less sailed, it felt good to remember how much fun it can still be, if you just give in and let it take hold of you.
*not to forget or discount Manitoba Lights, The Longshots, or anyone we haven’t met yet.