Live Review: Ska-Punk Party #2 – The Last Bastion Of The Ska-punk Era?

Location: The Dublin Castle, 16/10/2021

Words: Andrea Nordberg Naess

It’s a cold Saturday night in Camden and I’m on my way to pub venue The Dublin Castle. From afar you can hear loud voices, smell the beer, and hear the laughter. The whole crowd is ready for a proper ska-punk party.

The night opens with the Yorkshire’s DeadBeat at Dawn. The first thing we notice is the age of the band and the audience, which is older and takes this reviewer a little by surprise because I’m thinking: “That doesn’t matter, I’ll give the older generation a chance.” Maybe the older populace can out-rock the youngsters? Let’s see.

They start playing and I like what I’m hearing. The beat is very cool, and I can’t seem to stop nodding my head. The lead singer/rapper Aaron Daynes has a cool attitude and is spitting bars like Eminem. I’m not very familiar with the ska-punk genre, but so far so good. It’s a mixture between Jamaican ska, British punk, and rap.

Photo credit: DeadBeat At Dawn by Andrea Nordberg Naess

In the middle of the show the pianist Unity Shrimpton drops the keyboard on the floor, and she looks a little embarrassed – but honestly, I think it just looks cool, “punkish”. The band plays 10 songs, and the last three are really good because the energy is increasing: ‘Funky One’ ‘A-party list’ and ‘Don’t Stop the Music’. The last song in particular is very catchy, and we all can’t help but sing along ‘Please don’t stop the music, DJ play the music´.

The second band is Jack the Lad, a British Ska and Oi!-Punk group from Essex, East Anglia and Norfolk. They consist of five men with a style that reminds me a bit more of business-casual than the impression I have of punk style. But I’m not going to judge a book by its cover, so let’s see what they have to offer. They start off good and they have a great colour light show.  The beat is tight, however the songs are a little too long and a bit repetitive. The audience is still very passionate and a mosh pit is starting to form. The lead singer Glen has huge energy, especially on the song ´Leave Me Alone´. The youthful drive they have is admirable, but it’s a little strange to see someone that reminds me of my uncle preaching about rebellion and to ‘leave them alone’. But at the same time, it’s cool that they still got game. Thumbs up.

The headliner is London’s own The Trojan Beats and there are a lot of people in this band – seven members! They’re also an older band but look cooler – for instance, the lead singer, Two-Tone Malone, has a red mohawk. They start playing, but it’s a bit disappointing. The band is a singalong cover band, with the first songs being the classics ‘5446 Was My Number’ by Toots And The Maytals and ‘Tighten Up’ by The Untouchables. There’s a saxophone involved too, which is alright and goes with the genre. But the singalong atmosphere gives off too much of an all-inclusive hotel karaoke night kind of vibe. A lot of people are dancing, and the atmosphere is good, but after a couple songs I leave the scene.

As my first taste of ska-punk I’m a bit surprised. I thought the scene was younger, and more relevant, but it seems like it had it had its glory days in the 90s. However, I respect that these bands are keeping the ska-punk scene alive. It has also been fun to see live music again after such a long break. But where are the new ska-punk bands?