I strolled over Friday to the Aggie Theatre, 204 S. College Ave., to see The Ska is Dead Tour, featuring Streetlight Manifesto, Mu330 and Colorado legends Action Shot and P-Knuckle.
Despite previous headliner the Voodoo Glow Skulls dropping out, there was a line out the door and around the block, which is quite a rarity for ska shows.
Modern ska is different from the way it started in the 1960s in Jamaica with bands like The Skatalites and King Buster. These days ska is more like reggae's hyperactive little stepbrother. Contemporary ska can be enjoyed through skanking, a type of dance that has participators kicking their feet to the rhythm of the music.
The concert started with P-Knuckle, a reggae-influenced band from Denver. The group's set was a little slow, but it got the crowd ready for the bands to come. P-Knuckle's members did play their hearts out to a cover of Pennywise's "Bro Hymn" that had the crowd singing along with every "whoa."
After P-Knuckle's set was Boulder's own Action Shot. This band has been putting the same eight guys up on stage for quite some time now, and every time I see Action Shot perform it is an awe-inspiring experience. The band was still pumped from its CD release party the night before and the energy flowed straight out of the monitors and into the crowd.
Action Shot's incredible energy made way for the next band, Mu330. Named after the members' high school's music room, Mu300 is like Weezer with horns.
Halfway through Mu330's set, there was a contest — a guitar-playing contest to be exact. The lead singer called up two people from the pit to see how well they could play some good old-fashioned four-chord ska. The winner got to play all the way through a Mu330 song. It's this type of crowd participation that makes tour bands like Mu330 such crowd favorites.
When Streetlight Manifesto took the stage, the crowd was euphoric. Everyone was waiting, ready for the band to start its first song.
New Jersey is home to some great ska bands, including Catch-22 and One Cool Guy. Streetlight Manifesto is made up of three parts Catch-22 and four parts One Cool Guy. This Jersey seven-piece includes the regular trio of guitar, bass and drums, as well as a horn section, which is made up of two saxophone players, a trumpet player and a trombone player.
Once the band began, the skanking didn't stop. Most people in the crowd knew all the lyrics, so each song became a sing-a-long. Most songs were so fast-paced that the dancing in the pit became chaotic. When the guitarist played the opening chord to the song "Point/Counterpoint," the crowd went wild and collectively sung louder than the singer could through the microphone.
Between the number of people at the show and the loss of the Glow Skulls, I was a little worried this concert may not turn out as well as I had hoped. But as Streetlight Manifesto finished up its last song I knew that the number of people there only increased the energy, and all the bands that played were enough for any ska kid to enjoy.