Live (Nov. 7th, 2009)
Starlite Room - Edmonton, Alberta
It had been far too long since a good ska show came to Edmonton so when The Mad Caddies announced their return to the Starlite Room it was greeted with eager anticipation; and the evening did not disappoint.
Adding a keyboard player to the band, The Mad Caddies expanded to a seven piece and had the whole crowd eating out of their hands in no time. Fights broke out, bottles were smashed over people’s heads, people pushed, moshed and skanked all night long. It was chaos, it was a release, it was unbelievably fun and the Mad Caddies orchestrated every minute of it all. The lights dimmed red during the slower, reggae tunes like Drinking For 11, My Last Breathe and the extended instrumental around the halfway point. The pit exploded during Leavin’, Road Rash, Contraband and Silence. Pirates celebrated duringWeird Beard (literally, there were half a dozen people decked out in full pirate costumes) and Monkeys, yeah, people went crazy.
The band rarely took any time to talk, other than to dedicate a song to syphilis or to compare people who throw stuff at bands to people who put roofies into girls’ drinks, and instead ripped through songs for over an hour an a half. Every minute was packed with punk rock, ska and reggae as the sold out crowd pulsated and moved with the steady rhythms all night long – even the security guards found themselves in the pit, skanking alongside everyone else.
It was a night to remember, full of jubilant dancing that left most people covered a nice layer of sweat; other bands try to have control of a crowd like they did through fancy gimmicks or overly exaggerated stage presence but The Caddies were real and the honesty seeped through with every passing minute. Ska may be dying out a little bit, but last night it was alive and well in Edmonton and as long as The Mad Caddies are around, it will never truly die. We just gotta hope it’s not over a year until the next ska show comes to town.
Oh, and ending with a slightly edited All Canadian Badass? Pure genius.
As for the opening acts, The Blame-Its turned out to be one of the best unknown opening acts of the year playing some straight forward pop-punk in the vein of Screeching Weasel meets NOFX. Fast, catchy, some comical dance moves and a bass player that acted like Theo from Gob, The Blame-Its didn’t win over everybody but they did win me over, check them out if you get the chance.
The Johnstones, in contrast, did win over most of the crowd; sadly it was mostly for the wrong reasons. Putting a lot of effort into their show, The Johnstones packed their forty-five minute set with as many gimmicks as they possibly could – from additional lights shining their logo onto the opening curtain to capes made from old towels, The Johnstones goofed off their entire set. It was funny, they were energetic and captivating but the sound was a little off – mainly in the vocals which were placed way too low in the mix and barely audible. While entertaining, The Johnstones were ultimately forgettable, particularly when you take in the fact that The Mad Caddies destroyed it afterwards.