Whoever said 'ska is dead' certainly isn't from Montreal. Then again I'm not either, and what I saw there on November 23rd was one of the craziest shows of my life. With The Planet Smashers ending off their Canadian tour in their hometown accompanied by band-buddies Mustard Plug, a good show was a certainty. The show was held in the Metropolis on St. Catherine’s street (known for it's huge variety of strip joints). The venue itself holds about 3500 people, and I'm pretty sure it was near full capacity that night.
Starting off first was Gainesville, Florida's very own The Know How. I'd only heard a couple of songs from this band before but I really liked them and decided it would be worth going to the show early to see these guys play. I wasn't disappointed. It's probably safe to say that these guys are going to be the next big thing in ska music. Songs like "Daniel Larusso is Going to Fight" and "I Am Sparticus" had the crowd in a skankin' frenzy as soon as the show started. Their new cd "HappyFunRobotKillTime" (produced by former Less Than Jake sax player, Derron Mars) is a must-have for any fan of third wave ska.
Next up was local hardcore band The Sainte Catharine’s. These guys were decent and had a few heads nodding in the crowd, but they kind of seemed out of place as they were the only non-ska band playing the show. Even though they weren't quite my thing, I'd still give them credit for being good musicians and any fan of hardcore music should certainly check them out.
Then came Mustard Plug, the band I had spent the whole day waiting for. What can I say about this band? They put on an insanely good live show every time I see them, and they always have a lot of fun while they're at it. By the time they began their set with "Not Enough" from their new cd, the crowd was almost at its peak and ready to dance it up. Imagine nearly 1000 people skankin' to catchy, energetic ska, it was a rude boy's dream come true. Mustard Plug played several tunes off their new cd including "You Want It, We Got It" and "Just a Minute" which were the ones that seemed to get the audience moving the most. Their trumpet player did the rap for "Throw a Bomb" which I really enjoyed and hundreds of kids sang along to "Yesterday" which surprised me, as I never figured it to be one of their popular songs. Other highlights included "You", "Go", "Lolita", and of course the all popular "Beer Song". My only peeve about their set list was the absence of "Never Be", "The Freshman", and "Mr. Smiley" which they played at their Ottawa show.
And finally there was The Planet Smashers, a true Canadian favorite. When the curtain for them went up, all hell broke loose once more and the band began to play for their crazy hometown audience. Smoke effects surrounded the stage, and coloured lights flashed on the band, the audience, and the upper floor. At this point of the show, everywhere in the building seemed to be crammed with people, and there was not one person I could see who was standing still. A spiked mohawk jabbed me in the face during "Holiday" but I didn't care much because I was too busy skankin' it up. Halfway through the set, frontman Matt Collyer pulled out a phone and told the crowd his brother from Tofino was on the line. The person said hello to the audience with the telephone speaker put against a microphone (or from his own mic backstage) and Matt said "Where are you going right now?" The person replied "I'm going surfing!" and then the Smashers broke into "Surfing In Tofino" which is by far one of their best songs. Some other really good songs that they played were "Blind", "Life of the Party", "Too Much Attitude", and "Fabricated". After they finished their set, the crowd went wild demanding an encore and The Planet Smashers returned to play "Super Orgy Porno Party" with every member of Mustard Plug on the stage skankin' or running around in wild glee. The Smashers then finished it up with "Skate or Die" and left the audience with what was probably the best Canadian ska show of the year.