Los Kung Fu Monkeys, supposedly Tijuana, Mexico's finest ska band, are a pure delight. Free of any ego that often haunts any kind of rock bands, it's a pure delight to watch people who are genuinely pleased to be not just in your town, but in your country for the first time, and are genuinely happy that the crowd are enjoying themselves as much as they are.
Opening band the Kirkz were similarly enthusiastic, despite only coming from a few hours away; perhaps Los Monkeys' Mexican charm had infected them too, as they ripped through an energetic set of gutter punk with just enough hardcore and ska influence to keep it interesting, and an uncharacteristically tight and talented rhythm section for such a band. The singer was an especially entertaining character, discussing his favourite things about Huddersfield and the venue, The Parish, with a bemused audience and hopping off the stage to dance with anyone who showed them any interest.
Wobbly Bob were the only local band on the bill, and when they hit the stage they must have seemed so detestable to people who didn't know them, at least on paper -- a ska band with a cheesy name that wears matching shirts and ties, the sax player wearing a trilby and the singer and the bassist having dreadlocks. There was a token song about getting drunk, a cover of a Reel Big Fish song and a Ghostbusters theme cover...pretty much every bad cliché the genre suffers.
They're great fun all the same though, as, despite everything going against them, they're all solid musicians and can actually do the genre really well, with the ability to get a little more complex than your average small-town ska band. They got the crowd happily warmed up, and the highlight of their set was a perfectly adapted cover of "Sledgehammer," just ridiculous enough to be incredible, which made me laugh and dance in equal measures.
The crowd headed outside to catch its breath and another pint untill someone with a megaphone informed us that Los Kung Fu Monkeys are about to take the stage. We pile back into the venue to see eight guys crammed on to the tiny Parish stage. They greeted us cheerfully and tore into their first song which, like most of their songs, was a full-on ska onslaught. With two guitarists, which isn't overly common for ska bands, thinking about it, and a three-piece horn section of two trombones and a sax, their sound was full and punchy, poppy enough to be seriously fun, but occasionally dipping into heavier territory.
It kept the pit going constantly, with kids skanking and jumping around, trying their hardest to match the energy coming from the band, not wanting to disappoint them in their requests that we keep dancing. The obligatory ska cover song was, in a stroke of genius, "Boys Don't Cry," which they played brilliantly. Unfortunately, however, it was the standout track of the night; although Los Monekys are an incredibly fun and energetic band, none of the other songs they played have really stuck with me, which makes me question whether they'll be quite as good on record.
When they tried to stop, we demanded that they did not, and, with pleased and guilty looks on their faces, they agreed to play some more. The drummer hammered out a slow, basic beat that the crowd and the rest of the band picked up untill we were all screaming, 'We will, we will rock you!' and the band dove headfirst into another song, this time a more straight-up punk number. The trombone player was invited to join us in the crowd because he wasn't doing anything, and he obliged, running once around the pit before jumping back on stage to grab his instrument and play his solo. One more encore, in which Los Monkeys continued to push themselves, and us, harder and harder with their relentless horn-fuelled energy, and it was over.
The band left the stage with the invitation to join them at the bar, and we do, discussing the problem of the UK having different brand names to America, why it's so cold over here, and whether or not Tony Brummel is as bad as everyone claims, in a mixture of English, broken yet enthusiastic English and horrendous attempts at Spanish. Everyone is happy and sore after an incredible show, and smiling from making new friends with people from thousands of miles away. I'm still buzzing an hour later when I call for my taxi home.