Mob scene, ska style
Published: Monday, January 19, 2004 at 2:03 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 19, 2004 at 2:03 p.m.
The early crowd stood 40 strong outside the doors of Market Street Pub well before the doors opened at 5 p.m. for the 2004 Ska Mob Tour.
A pair of decrepit wanderers, reeking of body odor and booze took the opportunity to come plop their backpacks down beside my car and strike up a conversation. Amid their non-linear conversation and harassment of the traveling magnetic flashing jewelry sellers, the doors opened, providing me with a perfect escape.
Like the song says, you got to know when to walk away. The offering of a warm quart poured into a dirty Publix deli cup is that time, my friends.
While spending a full 15 minutes at the bar, waiting for the drearily slow bartenders to actually ask if I was interested in a beverage, One and Done, the new incarnation of the recently defunct Busdrivers kicked off the festivities.
Now, I have to say, One and Done has great horn lines. Yup, the horns were excellent.
Why do I say that twice? Because that's about all they did right.
Erin Weldon, she can sing. Dan Shortstein, he can work a bass. But it appears their new lineup, as a whole, just couldn't bring anything together. The individual pieces had quite the luster, but the shine of the group never made it past the "cloudy" stage.
To soften the blow of a band gone wrong, The Know How took the helm next. Arguably the only truly worthwhile ska band in Gainesville, they were perfectly on their game. Circle skanks and a churning crowd finally brought the noxious, yet strangely satisfying "group sweat" aroma to my sinuses.
The Know How also deigned to strut some of their new material on stage. Honestly, I couldn't tell the difference between old and new, and that is the best of things. This band has definitely found a sound that works, and works well - it isn't broke, so they haven't fixed it.
I'd been waiting to see the next act, SNMNMNM, for years now. That anticipation didn't go unfulfilled, as the quirky and unique group stole the spotlight of the evening.
The tuba-toting, accordion-playing men of SNMNMNM took over the stage in a way that came straight out of left field. In a room of skanking kids and reggae junkies, their 5-minute tuba solos and reliance on crowd vocals filled an unknown void in the room.
Fans in attendance will be happy to note that Ellis D. Productions was filming footage for an upcoming SNMNMNM DVD, expected to be out sometime around April. The disc will be a combination of Sunday's show, and the next date on the tour, complete with behind-the-scenes shots to "show who they really are," according to the blue-haired cameraman.
After the harbingers of excellence dismounted, my interest became overly piqued by the two rather attractive women stepping up to play the next set. After all, I'm just a man.
The Usuals came down like an apocalyptic fire of old school beats with just a pinch of funk. When I say everyone was dancing, I mean that, without corrective lenses, the blurry picture of the throbbing room would be akin to those creepy biology videos of cilia in the lungs.
Vocals, great; guitar, great; horns, great. I can't even pretend to be a critic, because I just can't say anything bad about The Usuals.
This is when things got crazy. Eastern Standard Time, Dr. Ring Ding and King Django all seemed to meld for the final portion of this extravaganza.
No matter who the hell was actually on stage, the island beats and fantastic vocals just ruled the day. I couldn't manage to keep quietly observing, and traded in my camera for a dancing partner or two.
Granted, ska isn't for everyone.
Ska is for anyone and everyone - it's the music of unity. To bring together the legends and heroes of this genre was a sight that every man, woman and child should see at least once in their lifetime. There were smiles and drunken smirks all around the block by the time Ska Mob 2004 moved on, and I'm just glad to say I was there.
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