When I arrived, the opening band, Life Afterlife, was just starting. Life Afterlife is a five-piece from the Tacoma area who play a mix from pure punk pop to some harder core punk sounds. Their music is primarily driven by churning guitar chords interspersed with poppy hooks. This is a young band. Probably all of them are under twenty five. They put out a ton of energy on stage and had a great rapport with the audience. They are also unique in that they have a female guitarist (Erin Dodge) who can churn out those punk chords as ruthlessly as any dude. Life Afterlife is a band to look out for.
Next up was a band called Poke Da Squid whom I’d heard of but hadn’t had the privilege of seeing until this night. I was amazed. Poke Da Squid is also a young band, again, all members are likely under twenty-five. They oozed charisma from all pores and played a very tight, high-energy set. This Seattle area quartet did a great job of getting the audience worked up for there was much dancing and pogoing happening. Every member wore trade mark rolled up pant legs and exhibited a great rapport with the audience. Their music is very polished, yet gritty and dirty with a catchy hook every other note. When they introduced a song they said was about drugs, the guitar player shook his finger at the audience and with a little kid grin, says, “don’t do drugs.”Besides being very charismatic, Poke Da Squid also exuded massive amounts of energy. The bass player’s fingers moved so fast he actually cut one of his fingers on the strings. He also just returned from a stint in Iraq. But if he was nervous about playing again, it certainly didn’t show. Poke Da Squid’s music also has enough hooks to supply the most avid fisherman for a decade. But I guarantee watching Poke Da Squid play is far more fun than baiting a hook. They also band have more bite. This is also a band to look out for. I know I’ll see them again in a heartbeat. And judging by the positive response they got from everyone in attendance, I’m sure more people will be looking out for them. Next up was a band I’d never heard of called Juice. There’s no information online about them anywhere. Juice is a six-piece ska band and also very young. The trumpet player didn’t even look like he was out of high school. Juice’s singer gyrated all over the stage as if a hundred electrical volts were pulsating through his body. These guys play great skanking, high powered ska. About half way through the set the drummer broke the pedal to his kick drum and the band had to improvise while the pedal got replaced. As they stated, “This is an awkward moment.” They did a great job chatting up the audience and the pedal was replaced quickly and the music ensued. A small but lively circle pit got started and continued throughout most the performance. For the finale, they performed a cover of Sublime’s Date Rape, a song they claimed had never been covered by anybody. They did it justice and this is high praise coming from someone who worships Sublime. Juice is a totally fun band. Their singer/front man performs with enough energy to probably power their entire set. I’d go as far as to say he was probably performing the second he slunk from the womb. He’s a natural on stage. Poorsport from Seattle was up next. Again, these guys have no information on line. You bands have got to get with the twenty first century here and put up some information. Get on Face Book at least. I’d heard many of Poorsport’s songs as they get ample airplay on KGRG and I liked what I heard. I was quite pleased to see that they were on the bill. Their live performance is far more loud and raucous than their recordings would leave you to believe. They hit the stage like a firestorm and the flames didn’t recede a bit during their entire performance. When they covered Van Morrison’s Brown Eyed Girl, it took me a second to realize they weren’t just playing the introduction to that song, but playing it in its entirety. They played it so fast it was over in probably less than a minute. During “The Drinking Song” the bass player leaped offstage and joined the circle pit for a couple spins, then leaped back onto the stage again all without missing a lick. When the singer crouched in front of the drum kit, the bass player climbed onto his shoulders where he was then carried around the stage for a minute or two while still holding his bass and the singer continued singing. It was wild, to say the least. I am so glad I finally got to see Poorsport. I will definitely see them again. They put on a fabulous show and I cannot recommend them or sing their praises enough!
After all the high energy performances of the first three bands, The Toasters came out with their laid back set. They played many of their hits such as Two Tone Army, Decision At Midnight, and Shocker. Singer/frontman and only original member, Robert (Bucket) Hingley is English born, but spent his life moving around due to being an army brat. The current members live in all parts of the world, though The Toasters hail from NYC. The Toasters also put on a fun show. Their unique brand of ska is smooth but not without an edge. Bucket possesses a very amiable personality, even joking with the audience. In introducing a song he says was for the ladies only and that if anyone has a beard they’re probably a dude, but this is Washington so you never know about that.
The dancing really went manic during Weekend In LA with the audience yelling, hey! hey! While Bucket sang LA.
For the finale Bucket dedicated Don’t Let the Bastards Drag You Down “to all the politicians out there.”
After a one-hour set, The Toasters left the stage, but not without requests from the audience for one more song. Shortly, the bass player returned and riled up the crowd, encouraging them to yell louder so the rest of the band could hear them. The crowd responded accordingly. Success was had, for the band returned for two more songs. Although far from a sell-out crowd, there were a fair number of enthusiastic concert-goers in attendance and for those who missed it, you missed a very fun-filled evening. Any of the bands that played could headline their own show.
All photos property of Holly Homan, all rights reserved.