There Ain't Nothin' Like a Good Ska Gig

The Mighty Mighty Bosstones
with the Pie Tasters
The Croatian Cultural Centre
Vancouver, B.C.
Tuesday, March 17, 1998

Review by Michael O'Donahue
Photography by Todd Duncan

[ed. the photos are on their way...]

It's heartening to see that, even in these thin times of prepackaged, prefab low fat entertainment, real people in a real band can still Make It. Hard work and determination can actually Pay Off. The Bosstones have been at it for years, touring, recording, touring, touring and touring. It can't have been easy -- there's like a million guys in this band and can you imagine the crowd in the van? Yet, they stuck with it and now -- a decade or so later -- they're an overnight sensation drawing a couple of thousand ska fans to the Croatian Cultural Centre on a Tuesday night.

There always seems to be a good vibe in the air at a ska gig -- people dancing and enjoying themselves, and a refreshing lack of meathead guy stuff like fighting and stupidity. The Mighty Mighty Bosstones delivered the goods, as well, keeping up the RPMs with their non-stop skank-rock fusion thing -- i.e., trad ska with some FM rock touches and cookie monster vocals. Good rapport with the crowd, also, going so far as to invite seven or eight crowd members up on stage for some swinging audience participation. They all behaved themselves, too, and got off the stage when they were asked.

The Bosstones did pretty much everything right: keep the party going, give the Kids something to dance to. And dance they did. You know the big open space at the back of the hall where the tired and the old hang out? For this show, it was a jam-packed dance floor for those not interested in braving the elbows and boots near the front but who still had... to... MOVE. Wow, I love live ska!

My only knit-picking complaint was that I couldn't hear or understand much of the singer's thing -- but in a big dining hall like the Croatian Centre that's to be expected, I guess. Especially when the singer sounds like Cookie Monster -- it can't be that easy to mix in the overall scheme of things. But it didn't distract much from the main events, namely, big beats, meaty horns and getting down.

The Pie Tasters got things off to the right start with a pretty pure ska style with all the classic elements- danceability chief among them. Not particularly memorable, but if you want a live band that can make you want to Move and you can't afford the twenty bucks it now costs to see the Bosstones, you can't go wrong.

First published in Drop-D Magazine on April 3, 1998

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