Friday, November 18, 2005

 

Ska's Not Dead, It's Knitting (UNFINISHED REVIEW?)

The Pilfers Reunion Show and The Scofflaws Play The Knitting Factory

Lets be honest: despite the several tours named in opposition to the fact, ska is dead. I almost feel like one of those sell-out renegade magicians who reveal all their secrets only to have the magician Illuminati make them actually disappear in a very un-magical way. But it's true. Like many (but far too few) members of my generation, I fell in love with ska during its much hyped and mass-marketed 3rd wave comeback because, well, I had to find something to fill the void of the much hyped and mass-marketed grunge scene which had faded out by the mid-90's. But I wasn't one of those kids who bought into the hype and based his knowledge of the music and its scene by what MTV's SKAturday special played, I was a root down lover of all things ska: from the traditional Jamaican/dancehall sounds that, often without recognition, spawned Reggae music, to the heavily diluted ska-punk (or is it punk-ska?) bands of the 3rd wave revival, and everything in between. In short, with a palate for the music as wide as mine, I had a scheduled filled to the brim with ska shows and a slightly more refined taste for what was GOOD, and conversely, what simultaneously revived and destroyed the scene; bands that are today skanking improperly on the ashes of real ska, and even real ska-punk, on the stages of recent Warped Tours. The Pilfers and the Scofflaws were among the good, covering many genres and subgenres of the music with style and originality. I recently got the pleasure to see "reunion" shows for both.

The Pilfers Reunion @ The Knitting Factory
It's been several years since The Pilfers called it quits around 2001, and far longer since I've seen them. In their prime, in other words during their whole career, they were a reigning force in the New York ska-punk scene. Frontman Coolie Ranx came from a celebrated history with legendary ska band The Toasters and trombone player Vinny Nobile of the great Bim Skala Bim, combining their sounds with punk influences into what they coined as "raggacore". The Pilfers were both talented and fun, recognized by all ska fans as one of the top bands on the scene and one of the best live shows around. Now 4 years later, nothing has changed.

To the suprise of a bunch of my friends who never bought tickets in advance, The Pilfers sold out the Knitting Factory for their first show in years, with fans traveling from across the country to be there. Denise De La Cruz, who is planning on touring as a guest with Coolie Ranx's new band called "Obiajula", opened the show. I got there late and missed her set, but if she's anything like her website claims her to be, I'm sure the show was chock full of reggae soul goodness.

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