I lost count in how many ska shows I’ve been to this year. For some reason 2013 has been the year of ska. Adding to the list of ska shows was the first night of Skanksgiving at the Starland Ballroom in Sayreville, New Jersey. Around eight bands played including one non-ska band, but they made up for it by having a few horn players play at the end of their set. However, all the bands put on a killer show and proved that ska music is alive and well.
The first band I photographed was Backyard Superheroes. I consider these guys my friends and I actually went to college with the trombone player. This was my second time photographing them and had to be the best one so far. Each member had so much energy and compared to the other local bands, they definitely stole the show. I think they made a lot new fans. Check out their bandcamp for a sample of songs available for free.
The next band I photographed is one of my favorite ska bands. Mustard Plug was my first ska band I listened to. After hearing them on a Hopelessly Devoted to You compilation I went out and purchased Pray for Mojo. From there on, my taste in music changed forever. I’ve seen Mustard Plug a couple of times before, but I think this was their best show yet. Within the first 30 seconds of the first song lead singer Dave Kirchgessner was in the crowd’s face singing while everyone sang back. The band played a great mix of songs along with some new ones and a cover of Rancid’s “Roots Radicals”. I will never understand why Mustard Plug isn’t as big as other ska bands like Reel Big Fish or Mighty Mighty Bosstones because their live show grabs you by the throat and leaves you breathless.
Less Than Jake was the last band of the night, and as always put on an energetic and fun show. I’ve seen Less Than Jake too many times to count. From big stages to small stages that don’t even look like they can fit all the members, Less Than Jake have constantly played flawlessly. Their set list should’ve pleased fans, because it did for me. Bassist Roger Manganelli and trombonist Buddy Schaub were the highlight of the show for they were moving around the stage consistently and getting the crowd excited. With a new album out now, I am hoping to see Less Than Jake take the world by storm next year.