The Toasters Stand The Test Of Time And Nail It At Uptown VFW Show


Ska music has always been a love of mine but I don’t seem to catch it live as much as I would like. I’m not sure if it’s because it’s a bit of dying genre or because it has such a fun and sunny demeanor that ska bands just avoid Minnesota because it’s cold and nasty up here majority of the year, regardless, I don’t catch it enough so last night’s show was definitely a treat. Add the fact that I was finally able to catch a friend’s band that I had been dying to catch for years and the fact that this show was all taking place just a couple blocks away from my apartment so I didn’t have to mess with the disgusting parking situation that is uptown Minneapolis right now (the city took away nearly half of the street parking to clean up the snow– I have yet to see a plow– but I digress) and you have the makings for one of the best Wednesday nights I have had in awhile.

Kicking the night off was local ska band Space Monkey Mafia. This is one of those bands that I always see their name on flyers, hell, I even know one of the members, but just have never had the chance to catch them live. What a mistake that was. The horn-centric band took the stage and wasted no time jumping into a set that had me feeling like I was under a California sun rather than an arctic tundra. Their bright and poppy sound was the perfect start to the show and instantly put me (and clearly the rest of the audience) in the most perfect mindset. The audience, although still growing, was clearly into it and started moving around to the infectious beats as if they had no control over what they were doing.

Space Monkey Mafia’s set moved by too fast. Although each song was clearly theirs with their unique style, each song sounded different and brought a different vibe to their all too short set. Complete with one of the happiest sounding political protest songs I’ve ever heard, it was clear to me that this band is on their way up and is truly going to be making waves. While doing some research this morning, I realized that this group has a pretty substantial tour planned which will take them across the country. I seriously am so happy that out of all of the bands in the current Twin Cities scene, these guys are the ones taking the leap to the open road right now. They are sure to make all of us back here in the frozen tundra we call home extremely proud.

With only two acts, Wednesday night’s show moved fast and it seemed like it only took a few seconds for Space Monkey Mafia to clear the stage and make room for the legendary group The Toasters. Since the early 1980’s, The Toasters have proven themselves to be one of the most influential acts in the ska scene along with one of the most innovative. A lot has changed with this band over the years including an ever changing cast of characters that play in the group (the only constant has been vocalist Robert “Bucket” Hingley) but one thing has stayed true over all the time that has passed- this band is infectiously fun and have stayed true to their sound and style since day one. That’s hard for some bands that have only been around for a couple of years to say. To have a band be able to say that after nearly forty years is truly impressive.

The Toasters powered through their set with a sense of business as far as not dilly-dallying around on stage but also kept it extremely light-hearted. Lots of laughs were shared between the band members and the audience but things were moving fast and, although I could have listened to Robert’s stories all night, there were songs that needed to be played and time was of the essence. With the horns blaring and the lights from the disco ball swirling, the atmosphere inside the Uptown VFW was beyond perfect. It was one of those shows that was extremely come as you are. While majority of people were skanking around in a pit that started off being full of strangers and ended being full of friends, there was also no guilt in just leaning against the wall while sipping a drink. Regardless of how one spent their time at the show last night, there was a smile on their face.

I couldn’t tell you what songs The Toasters played. I honestly couldn’t even tell you how many songs they played. What I can tell you is that I was extremely happy throughout their set and any stress or worry that had plagued me throughout the day was gone. Although every concert is my happy place, there’s just something invigorating about going to a ska show and it can’t be put into words.

Feeling down? Go to a ska show and let loose. I promise it does wonders.