The most regular stream I tuned in to through the Covid quarantine was that of Scott Klopfenstein. Not only did I hear, and subtly remember lyrics, of his solo work in regularity, but I heard the songs of this band called the Littlest Man Band. It is a band that formed back in 2003 but went on break while Scott moved to the East Coast. However, since Scott has come back to the West Coast, you can say the cliché he got the band back together. With a couple adjustments in the lineup, the newest look Littlest Man Band brought a wonderful set to Phoenix for their first visit to my memory. It was bolstered further with sets from two amazing local representatives of our ska scene with Bowcat and the 2 Tone Lizard Kings.
Opening was Bowcat, a band familiar to many if you’ve attended a ska show here in the past few years. One of our youngest to form active ska bands who have been making waves all the way to the Supernova Ska Festival. If unfamiliar with their sound, Bowcat brings in a rocksteady and 2 tone influence for their ska sound.
During the set they treated us to a pair of new songs coming down the pipe. One song was without the horns for a change, which may just be early in its writing or maybe for a little something different. Further engaging with the crowd brought Marcia, lead vocalist, down into the early audience to sing and inspire others to dance along. Regardless of Dane mentioning the reed issues on saxophone, it went unnoticed to my ear in a great opening performance. Bowcat started the night off strong.
Smack dab in the middle was the 2 Tone Lizard Kings. They are arguably the best ska band in the Valley of the Sun. They have been at it for over a decade now producing catchy ska tunes and danceable music. It shows as anyone within earshot at Pub Rock started to gather in bigger quantities in front during their set. There were a few more moving their feet with the dancing extending on stage to the band over the course of their set. This includes Adam, Gary, Jayson, and everyone but Cameron, on drums, breaking into the occasional arm moving and skanking of their own in parts of songs.
Being stuck behind the kit may make it hard to dance, but it didn’t stop Cameron from flashing a lot of happy smiles as he played the Lizard Kings’ tunes. Adam, on vocals, bolsters their performance with the on-stage charm to keep people engaged and occasionally laughing. The 2 Tone Lizard Kings showed off their on stage experience and music skills while perfectly setting up our final band of the night.
Last came our headliners, The Littlest Man Band, with their desert debut. Familiar faces across it from self-named “the littlest man” himself, Scott Klopfenstein, and an assortment of returning and new faces. Familiar faces including that of Vince Walker and Jake Berrey back. Vince over on the keys and guitar in a different role than when the band started.
Newer to the band’s lineup, but familiar faces in other ways, included Tavis Walker and Mitch Bruzzese. Mitch maybe the bigger draw of the night, who runs a delightful drumming Twitch stream and flew all the way here from Australia. I watched as he probably had the biggest circle of fans hitting him up after their set. All of this talent comes together in a bubblegum and indie rock with ska roots influenced sound of the Littlest Man Band.
Of course, if you have ever watched any of Scott’s Twitch streams you would know this guy is brilliant at interacting with a crowd. Heck, if you watched him back in the day in Reel Big Fish you know he has that on stage charisma. Scott was full of funny jests and anecdotes through the night. He brought out little notes of each member writing something nice about whoever they drew out of a hat earlier. Whether well timed or purposely kept separate, he brought out his for last with Tavis reading it aloud as Scott struck an “appropriate pose.”
The set shows how much the line is blurred of Scott’s solo works and what you may considered the band’s catalog. You had songs including “Happened Again” and “Sunshine” played with the, so far released under Scott’s name, “Average Man” and “The Hilarious.” All of this with Scott rotating between guitar and keyboard and the band playing an amazing set of the combined music. Scott closed on a Twitch stream tradition of reminding everyone to take care of one another and messages of positivity. It was fantastic getting to finally see an incarnation of The Littlest Man Band and I can only hope it becomes a regular thing.