The Toasters Are Better Than Their Stage Banter

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The first time I came to Boise, I was on tour with my high-school ska band. Much of the drive was spent arguing about who would win a boxing match: a ska band or a metal band. Our Slayer-loving roadie was convinced that all metal heads were like Kerry King—barbarians with guitars instead of clubs. I argued that ska bands were comprised of band geeks full of repressed rage from being bullied.

In the end, we agreed to disagree. 

But after walking into The Toasters' show at The Shredder Jan. 31, I was reminded again of why I thought I was right. The crowd was full of leading researchers in the field of "up to no good."

But here's the other thing: They were also dancing like giddy children. First to the Mad Caddies-esque sound of Rochester, N.Y.'s Mrs. Skannotto and then to the second wave oi of The Toasters.

The beat was so infectious, so energizing, that the dance floor only got more full when The Toasters finally hit the stage just past midnight. And it stayed full despite the stream of lame jokes and insults from frontman Robert Hingley. 

"Are you guys ready? Then turn off that potato-kicking music," he said to start the set. 

"Fantastic state you've got here. I might be able to appreciate it if it weren't covered in snow," Hingley harumphed between songs. 

And finally: "Thanks for coming out on a Thursday. We know you guys have a lot better things to do in Idaho on a Thursday like ... uh, uh, nothing."

The 'tude wasn't a surprise considering Hingley spent much of his stage banter at the band's last Boise performance alleging that all he knew about Idaho was that it had a lot of potatoes and neo-nazis. 

But the beat was so peppy and brassy, that one couldn't help taking the advice from Hingley's song "Don't Let the Bastards Grind You Down," even if the guy singing it was acting like a bastard.

And that left me with two different questions to replace the one about who would win a boxing match. 

The first is whether it's still OK to refer to the dance floor as a "skank pit" if there are only girls dancing. The second is when the fourth wave of ska might hit. 'Cause this boy is ready anytime.

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