Sunday, October 12, 2014

Dear New Ska Bands

It's been nigh on seventeen years since ska hit it big on the mainstream.  I was, and am, still a big fan.  However, the bands I listened to have either broken up or become so diluted with band members leaving and what can only be explained as sharp declined in the quality and quantity of groupies that their stuff doesn't grab me anymore.  The last ska show I saw was in 2005, right before the Bosstones went on hiatus.  That event is telling of how the current scene seems to be nothing but a caricature of the one I grew up on.  The Bosstones were the classiest of them all.  All in suits or tuxes, always looking good, song with hooks, and songs that just got you moving. 

I had gone to the Warped Tour every year from high school into college, until I looked old enough that everyone simply assumed I was a narc, and no one at the shows would come near me.  It got about as old as I felt, so I stopped going.  Somewhere in the intervening decade, the ska scene has gone back underground.  I hadn't heard a new band in years, until I wistfully decided to check out the lineup of this year's Warped Tour.  Out of twenty or thirty acts, only two were billed as ska bands.  Less Than Jake, who last put out a good album when I had a full head of hair, and a new band, called Beebs and Her Moneymakers.  I took to Youtube, hoping to find a new good band.  What I got was bland dreck that was dangerously verging upon mocking the old scene.

A big thing with ska has always been checkered things.  I had a checkered pickguard on my old guitar, and a checkered border along my bass.  It symbolized race unity.  As I watched a video of this band, I noticed the EVERY. SINGLE. BANDMEMBER. was decked out in some sort of checkered suit or clothing.  If they moved around enough, someone was liable to get a seizure.  It wasn't just for one video.  This was apparently "their thing".

I began clicking through the suggested links to the righthand side of their video, and found more and more new ska bands that had an overwhelmingly innocuous and bland sound, and every one of them were dressed like checkered monkeys.  None had the energy of Reel Big Fish, or the speed of Less Than Jake, or the class of the Bosstones.  There wasn't anyone even getting by on raw talent like Save Ferris, or unabashed fun like the Aquabats.  They were doing things by some trite formula, and it sucked the fun from every song.

How to have a successful ska band in 2014:

1.  Must have the word Ska somewhere in the name, so that everyone knows we are a ska band.
2.  Everything must be checkered, in case people didn't know we were a ska band from our name Doh-re-me-Ska-so-lah-ti-doh.
3.  Unenthusiastic dancing is a must.
4.  Try to get someone from one of the old ska bands to sing halfheartedly on a track.  We will use their fame to our advantage.
5.  Whatever you do, remember, don't have fun, but make it look like you are.  This will usually end up with you wearing a stripper's dead eyed smile.

1 comment:

  1. Man, you really nailed it on the unenthusiastic dancing prerequisite. I searched some Beebs and Her Moneymaker videos out of sheer morbid curiosity and that was the first thing i noticed. It was like the bi-hourly ska review at Six Flags or something. Now, I couldn't be further from a ska-aficionado, but I enjoyed some of the aforementioned bands greatly back when they were on fire. Any music played with the right fire and conviction will (should) move you. Without it, the whole thing just feels flat.


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