Photos by David Rubene
Tuesday night was Gwar- an intergalactic metal band. Wednesday was The Motet- a funky jam-band like group. Thursday was Susto- an indie-alt- country band. It’s only fitting that I found myself at a ska show with Mustard Plug on Friday at Triple Rock. I mean, that seems to be the next logical genre of music, right? Who am I kidding, there’s no meaning in my madness. I just go to shows and hope for the best and last night I definitely got some of the best.
Locals Rocksteady Breakfast kicked off the late show with a 9:30 start. The seven-piece instantly jumped into their upbeat music and my face instantly turned into one giant smile. You can’t help but grin when watching ‘Professor Gil’ behind the keyboard and microphone. He just has this positive energy about him and when he dances like nobody is watching, it makes you feel like you can dance like nobody’s watching. The entire band danced and grooved through the set alongside the sold-out crowd that was quickly warming up to the idea of dancing around. I’ve seen these guys before and am always pleasantly surprised by the audience participation. Whether the band was singing in English or Spanish (which they often do), there were people in the crowd singing along as they created a small skank circle (more on this later) near the stage. The energy during Rocksteady Breakfast’s set was the perfect start to what was going to be an amazing night of music and fun.
Following the explosive set of Rocksteady Breakfast was another local favorite of mine- Umbrella Bed. Ever since I caught them for the first time when they opened for Save Ferris back in March, I’ve been addicted to this iconic group. Known for their 2-tone ska style which seems to be the grandfather genre of the ska music many people listen to today. Although that style had a short life span, Umbrella Bed has been keeping it alive since the 1990’s and, although they seem to keep a bit of a low profile, there’s no denying their influence in the sky world.
The eight members crowded the small Triple Rock stage and jumped right into their set of playing through their newest release ‘Rotate’. Although they had to cut some songs from their set due to time restrictions, the crowd seemed excited to hear these new songs from such an iconic band in such a legendary venue. With synchronized moves from the two trombone players and countless laughs and smiles on stage, Umbrella Bed kept the high energy that Rocksteady Breakfast had put in place and catapulted the crowd into a sweaty mess. The crowd swirled along with the music and, although the music doesn’t have the intensity that a metal band may have, the crowd was reacting like it was a metal show of sorts. Even there there was beer sloshing around and landing on people and the floor, there wasn’t a single person in the venue standing still or frowning. It may have been sold out and personal space had turned into a commodity but it worked. When this whole party attitude mixed with the fun, upbeat music blaring through the speakers, you were left with an explosive Friday night show full of fun.
Closing out the night was legendary ska-punk band Mustard Plug. Since the early 1990’s, Mustard Plug has stayed true to their sound and has been a staple in many people’s playlists. Even though this band has been around forever, there are still a couple of original members in the group making catching them live a big deal for me. I remember watching live footage of them from back in the day and being in awe of singer Dave Kirchgessner’s energy and, here there I was, watching that energy live. Being able to catch a band like this live is something that’s damn near impossible to put into words.
Although I stayed off to the side of the crowd due to my exhaustion levels and the fact that I had a giant bulky coat to hang onto, I couldn’t help but watch the crowd throughout majority of Mustard Plug’s set. Everyone on the floor was skankin’. Don’t know what that is? Shame on you. I’m all for moshpits but I’m starting to fall in love with skanking pits a bit more. To put it simply, skanking is basically doing the “running man”. Don’t believe me? Look it up. It’s a less aggressive form of moshing although it’s still intense and people still get knocked around. With multiple forms of skanking being exhibited, to an outsider the floor of the Triple Rock probably looked like a goofy mess but to me, it was a thing of beauty. Even if someone fell down or got knocked around a bit, there was a smile on their face as a handful of people helped them out or picked up their spilled beer while trying to salvage what they could. Watching all of this happen around me was just the icing on the cake for an already amazing show.
With over twenty songs in their set, Mustard Plug seemed to know exactly what the crowd wanted to hear. They played some songs that I recognized, some that I had never heard before, and some that I had obsessed over back in the day. Sure, there are some deep messages in Mustard Plug’s music if you dive into the lyrics but, when seeing them live, those messages seem to fall to the wayside. Their set was all about fun. It was about making friends with strangers, dancing around like an idiot, and trying to keep your cheeks from cramping due to smiling so much. The sold out crowd was doing just that and, just like during the two opening acts, the atmosphere in the room was electric and an atmosphere that, when push came to shove and the crowd was migrating to the doors, I wasn’t ready to leave behind.
Last night’s show was the last ska show the Triple Rock will ever host. Getting the idea that The Triple Rock will be no more in just a couple of weeks has been super tough for me and will continue to be a struggle until the bitter end. That being said, there couldn’t have been a more perfect ska show to label as the last ska show ever at The Triple Rock.