Bad Time Records Tour featuring Catbite / We Are The Union / Kill Lincoln / J. Navarro & The Traitors – Three Links – Dallas, TX – 3/13/23

“Ska is dead.” “Ska is just high school band kids.” “Have you seen the mozzarella ska meme?” One can agree that ska has gotten a bad rap from the ’90s, and that’s all everyone remembers. However, did ska die? Nope, ska never left; in fact, it is better than ever. Part of the resurgence of ska can be thanks to a label out of California called Bad Time Records. Owned and operated by Mike Sosinski, who is also the singer and guitarist of Kill Lincoln, saw a lack of support for new ska bands forming and in true punk fashion create the DIY label. With work ethics like Mike Park of Asian Man and community support like labels like Drive-Thru Records, Hopeless Records, and Equal Vision Records, Bad Time Records have brought that pride and excitement back to the punk community.

With an amazing roster of bands that none sound alike, which proves that ska isn’t “just horns and upstroke guitars” as some say, Bad Time Records would decide to bring these bands together on the road with the Bad Time Records Tour. The tour would crisscross the United States and already most if not all shows have sold out months in advance. All shows are headlined by We Are The Union, Catbite, and Kill Lincoln and each night the lineup is different as to who starts and ends.

Also, each leg of the tour has different openers that are part of the Bad Time Records family. On top of the tour, Bad Time Records will be documenting each show for a Kickstarter concert film and documentary called This Is New Tone. The Kickstarter was funded in eight days and even though you can’t donate any more, keep an eye on Bad Time Records’ socials for when it will be released. I am sure Mike will have copies to sell and where to purchase the download.

Kicking off this round of shows was J. Navarro & The Traitors. Many might know Jason Navarro from his other ska-punk band the Suicide Machines, but this side band is more reggae/rock steady sounding. Most songs played came from their debut album Criminals and Lions, but a few new songs were played. Not sure if it is known yet, but J. announced that obviously, they signed a record deal with Bad Time Records and the album should be out May 20th this year. Before their last song, they dedicated their great cover of “Ghost Town” by the Specials to the late Terry Hall. Even though this band has done a few shows here and there since its inception, I’d expect a lot more to come from them in the coming months leading up to their new album.

It looked like out of the three bands headlining, Kill Lincoln would take the stage next.  If you have never seen Kill Lincoln, be ready for sing-alongs, jumping, moshing, and band members being found where they shouldn’t be. In this case, Ume, the trombone player who was celebrating his birthday, was found outside on top of the van playing his solo for “Pralines & Dick” and would then crowd surf his way to the stage while playing.

It is a sight to see because you never know where he will turn up during that song, but it will always be fun to watch. Everyone else in the band puts on their own show during the set such as bassist CJ will be making faces the whole time while playing his bass in different positions. This band are probably the best live band out there, period. Kill Lincoln was the first band to sign to Bad Time Records, obviously, and I believe another label never took a chance on them because they have never seen their live show.  If they did, I think labels would’ve been fighting over signing them.

We Are The Union took the stage next, and just like Kill Lincoln, have a crazy stage presence. Again their trombonist, Jer, would be jumping, dancing, and eventually into the crowd to start a circle pit. Out of all the bands, We Are The Union have been the longest active band, but for their set majority of the songs came from their latest album Ordinary Life. Not only is this album the rebirth of the band, but probably the best material the band has put out.

It’s best to start with that album and work your way back in their discography. The band seems to be at their happiest and during their set lead singer and guitarist Reade Wolcott told the LGBTQIA+ community that it is a scary world out there right now for them, but their show and the members are their family and this is a safe place for them. That’s the thing about ska, even when the first wave was happening it was always a place for everyone to feel safe and enjoy themselves. Some of these bands might not sound like their older peers, but the ideals are still there which is more important than the music.

Ska was more accepting than other genres of music, and I think that is what made people madder about the genre.  It wasn’t the music, but that anyone is invited even if they are different, and some people just can’t handle it. Long live ska and We Are The Union.

Lastly, Catbite closed out the night with an amazing performance. Catbite’s career has been filled with constant ups. They recently got back from a tour in Australia, they are on this tour, then going to England next month followed by a tour with Bouncing Souls which brings them to the middle of the year. What is next for them is anyone’s guess, but it will definitely be great for them.

This show was no different than any other Catbite show; you can expect to dance from beginning to end and also sing along to each song. “Scratch Me Up” has the crowd clawing at the sky, while their cover of “Bidi Bidi Bom Bom” has everyone singing. Their set will always leave fans and new fans leaving with a smile on their face. Even though Catbite doesn’t close each night, for this show everyone in the Bad Time Records came on stage to dance and sing along, it was a perfect way to end a show.

It was also a great way to show that Bad Time Records isn’t just a label, but a family. Love and kinship are clearly present with this label, and I can’t think of another label out now that has this respect for each other. Maybe it is just a ska thing, which, if it is, then people that hate on ska are really missing out. Whatever it is, Bad Time Records are a label that seem perfect. What they are doing in the scene is amazing, and I hope they never stop.

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