People should be dancing and skanking at a ska show. This was not the case for the majority two nights ago, and it was frustrating. Tonight, people came to move, dance, and sing with the bands from start to finish. There was always at least one person dancing around to every band, and it was awesome. If there is an example of a great show with some amazing touring and local acts, this is a good model to look at.
Opening up was our local ska band who has been quickly rising up in the Phoenix scene, Bowcat. Like a couple other bands you see me frequently writing about, love what I see in this band. There’s a great sound and energy to them. Members of Bowcat love to continue playing off stage while engaging the dance circle. Tonight had one of the cooler moments of the night with Dane’s daughters working on their dance skills, Marcia and Dane occasionally jumping down to dance with them.
Up after them is the Rebel Set. This Surf Rock meets Rock ‘n Roll is great. Watching Joe, their lead singer and guitarist, play that guitar on stage is a work of art. He has excellent skill on the instrument. Katey and Corey moving around, dancing to the music they play as they play it. Tonight we had a friend of mine filling in, Juan, on drums and do a fine job. There was a song they played for the first time live tonight, citing they usually screw it up, but it sounded like a good play through. Perhaps that means Juan is good luck. If you haven’t seen a Rebel Set show yet, I can highly recommend you add it to your list. In the meantime, go check out the new album they just put out too.
Smack dab in the middle we had the 2 Tone Lizard Kings as we alternated between ska and other genres all night. Once again, it was an excellent set from them just like on Tuesday. The difference was that the crowd came to move and dance at Yucca. Adam chatted with the crowd, and had a much better response the entire set. It was nice to see the audience appreciate the 2 Tone Lizard Kings like this again. If I haven’t touted how they are certainly near the top of the local ska bands in the valley, then now you know. Be sure to check out one of their upcoming shows, and always make sure you dance to show how much you appreciate it.
Next was a band that puts on one of the best presentations with their musical set, the Phenomenauts. I like to describe them as if the Aquabats went a little more rock and roll, and were traveling in space. They dress up as a space ship crew that is exploring the farthest regions of the galaxies. The stage includes many props to communicate the science fiction look, including a Neil Degrasse Tyson picture on the keyboard. In conversation they address our home as the planet Earth, not our city or state.
The music is just as entertaining from the Phenomenauts. The audience enjoyed the set, as our circle became more of a mosh pit for most of the set while smoke machines and laser lights shine from the stage. They make their way on top of amps and into the crowd through the set, just adding to how engaging the Phenomenauts are. I’m hoping the above alone was enough to get you to come out next time they play, because they are one of the most entertaining bands I’ve seen to date.
Last, but certainly one of the biggest reasons I was at the show, was Mustard Plug. The last couple years I feel like I’ve been spoiled with what seems to be annual visits to Phoenix from them now. Up until about three years ago, it had been a drought of shows here for quite a few years. Now, I don’t mind being spoiled if that means I get to enjoy the fantastic sets they put on every time I’ve seen them. Mustard Plug is easily one of my favorite ska bands to watch.
From the get go, Dave was completely engaging the crowd. Near the beginning he asked the crowd if there is a difference of calling it Tempe or Phoenix. Later he went into how he had heard there was a ska show in Phoenix that people weren’t dancing at, and that if no one is dancing at a ska show then the band shouldn’t be last on the bill. For the record, I didn’t talk to him, but it was nice to hear them reinforce how I felt coming out of Tuesday’s show. The set itself was a good mix of recent and older tracks. Dave reminded us it is the twentieth anniversary of Evildoers Beware, and they played a couple off of that album tonight too. I found myself in the circle for most of their set, and the night, skanking my worries away. This show was the ska show and crowd that I wish I got two days ago.