MU330/Suburban Legends/Gylbots - live in Minneapolis (Cover Artwork)

MU330 / Suburban Legends / Gylbots

live in Minneapolis (2004)

live show

Despite a slew of a beguiling ska anthems, MU330 couldn't profit off the late 90's third wave revival before the genre "died" out. Unlike their peers, they failed to receive mainstream radio play though their video for "Tune Me Out" was played on MTV...for about ten seconds. Then again, album sales and popularity have never been hallmarks of MU330's career. Rather they have been renowned for a frenetic live show composed of incredibly catchy psycho ska that often deviates from conventional girlfriend/relationship archetypes with songs about racism, European tumult, insomnia, and some very important lessons from Catholic grade school. So naturally, I was inclined to see MU330 along with relative newcomers, but no strangers to a live venue, the Suburban Legends, who just may usher in another ska revival. It would prove to be a very interesting night and perhaps prove that ska had never died rather retreated to the underground as the vast commercial appeal of the genre had dwindled though it's diminished fan base is as enthusiastic and rabid as ever.

First on the bill was Minnesota's own Gylbots. Proving that the Minnesota ska scene is still alive, they opened with a speedy number before playing "Reagan Repeat," a catchy ska song that could quite possibly be the first skankable anti-Bush song. The band was in fine form and took time to joke, "We're Madcap," a band who had pulled out of the show, and decided to play some punk to compensate for the aforementioned group's absence. Near the end of their set, the Gylbots switched instruments with their drummer urging those adults in the audience to register to vote. Diverting from this political statement, the Gylbots played two reggae-influenced numbers and one punk song before calling it a night.

I'm not exactly sure if the fourth wave of ska will ever manifest and receive commercial success, but don't be surprised if the Suburban Legends manage to become immensely popular while riding a new wave. From the opening notes of "Blingity-Bling," the "greatest ska band in all the world" had the audience at their mercy. Vocalist Tim Maurer spent the majority of the show dancing about the stage's edge (who, unlike a legion of inept pop stars, actually danced and SANG simultaneously), encouraged the crowd to "Just say no!" to popular demand, demanded everyone participate to his commands, and even asked everyone to give him the finger-no, not that finger, the index finger. Amongst his onstage antics, he leaped into the pit to bound about before a brilliant run through "Bright Spring Morning," a wonderful song highlighted by elegant horn lines and great riffs courtesy of Brian Klemm, who appeared to be playing Aaron Barrett's old, white guitar. In addition to their front man's captivating stage presence, each member of the Legends exuded energy via choreographed dance routines (thanks to small microphones attached TO the horns, Aaron, Dallas, Vince, and Brian were very mobile), back flips, tossing their horns in the air and runs around the stage as each antic elicited many flash bulbs from the audience. But the Suburban Legends proved to be more than a mere shtick or spectacle with the sing-along, "Up All Night," and the captivating "Autumn In The Park" featuring an infectious chorus that caused many to dance merrily about. "Powerful Game" seemed to signal the set's familiar conclusion, but the Suburban Legends decided to end with their traditional opener, "High Fives." Tim dashed across the stage during the chorus proceeding to give high fives to hordes of enthusiastic fans while the band gave it their all one last time. Having seen the Suburban Legends twice in recent months, I must say that they consistently perform at an incredible level particularly in a smaller setting such as the Triple Rock Social Club that allows the audience to witness their potent performance up close.

Following the Suburban Legends who have honed their live show through 900 performances in a single year would be no small feat. But if any band is familiar with the road, it's MU330 who have played more than 1300 shows since their inception. Despite the disparaging toll so much time on the road must have taken, Dan Potthast enthusiastically shouted, "Hey, we're MU330 FROM ST. LOUIS MISSOURI!" as the crowd quickly contracted. With each member donned in black "330" t-shirts, MU330 opened with the instrumental, "Punisher," a bouncy faux-metal number. "Lied To" followed and was the first in a batch of frantic numbers such as the hit single that never was, "Tune Me Out" and Napster parody "Hi My Name Is John." Unfortunately, Dan's vocals were barely audible through the rapid mess of guitar, bass and trombone but this problem was soon taken care of as the front man occasionally bounced around and ran across the stage. The band finally slowed down with the anti-racism cry of "Tell Another One," a definite highlight that also incited the first major skank pit of MU330's set. Finally slowing to a stop after eight consecutive songs, MU330 took a break as Dan announced that they had been jumping rope on this tour and proposed a contest: if anyone could jump rope throughout an entire MU330 song, they would win the entire MU330 catalog. Someone finally accepted and subsequently a spot was cleared out on the dance floor as "L.A." was given the live treatment with nearly everyone shouting the chorus much to the Dan's delight. Unfortunately, the crowd wasn't that receptive to some of the self-titled era songs though, oddly enough, many sang along to an impromptu rendition of a Hall and Oates' song along the lines of "private eye" as Dan sang a bit of the song upon request. A few more of the set's highlights, "Raw Fish" and "KKK Highway" were drawn from "Ultra Panic" before Gerry took to the microphone and received a few shouts of "Where's The chainsaw?" Though he didn't have the chainsaw but did regale us with "Why Do Birds Suddenly Appear?" Once Gerry had finished MU330 announced they had one final song, the classic "Get Away From That Table." Gerry and Rob set down their trombones to frantically run in place as many futilely tried to follow them as Dan, Chris, and Ted tore through one of the fastest songs in their repertoire. With that the band left the stage, but having played a set that was primarily composed of material off of their last two albums, I couldn't help but notice they had completed neglected any material off "Press." Inevitably returning, many shouts for "Hoosier Love" emanated from the audience and sure enough, MU330 decided to conclude with that classic, perhaps the only true sing-along of the night.

So while many may deem ska "dead" with acts disbanding or adopting a pop/punk route, the genre still hosts many competent bands be they younger groups such as the Suburban Legends or veterans like MU330. Yes, ska acts may not draw as many fans to venue or sell many records as pop/punk and emo seem to be the hot ticket nowadays but there still is a demand for such groups. While trends and commercial success can fade in 15 minutes, groups with a dedicated fan base will persevere and survive. Because as long as all the clubs have microphones and people go to the shows, bands like MU330 will continue to prove that the ska scene is still alive and will not stagnate like raw fish.

Gylbots (5:59 P.M.-6:41 P.M.)
1) Tonight?
2) Reagan Repeat
3) The Smell of Victory, A Taste of Defeat
4) Biddy Bop-Bop-Ba
5) N/A
6) Friend Or Foe
7) A Lesson Yet To Be Learned
8) Shitcore
9) First Impression
10) Change Name
11) I Got A Date?
12) Let It Go
13) You Don't Know?

Suburban Legends (7 P.M.-7:37 P.M.)
1) Blingity-Bling
2) Popular Demand
3) Bright Spring Morning
4) I Want More
5) Up All Night
6) Autumn In The Park
7) Powerful Game
8) High Fives

MU330 (7:59 P.M.-8:48 P.M.)
1) Punisher/Lied To
2) Vow Vow
3) Tune Me Out
4) You Win Again
5) Hi My Name Is John
6) Oh My God
7) Tell Another One
(all eight without stopping)
8) LA (with jump rope contest)
9) Pool Party
10) Raw Fish
11) State O Mind
12) San Francisco
13) Stagnant Water
impromptu Hall and Oats cover
14) Serious
15) Rok
16) Baby Rats
17) KKK Hiway
Gerry's cover
18) Get Away From That Table
19) Hoosier Love