The Aggrolites/Soul Captives/Impalers - live in San Francisco (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

The Aggrolites / Soul Captives / Impalers

live in San Francisco (2005)

live show

If I lived in Boston instead of San Francisco, I would have definitely called the rain we got on Sunday night a "wicked pissah." However, even a few inches of h20 (go!) falling from the sky couldn't ruin a great show like this. The DNA Lounge website said that the show started at 8 PM, but I didn't get my ass in gear until 8:30. As I braved the traffic down Oak St. in the rain (finding out halfway down that my rear brakes weren't hooked up) I hoped that I wasn't going to miss too much of it. After locking up my bike, I stepped inside the Lounge to the sweet sounds of Axe Records studio band, the Impalers.

The Impalers played a mix of originals and covers, one being a pretty sweet Upsetters piece. Their sound was that of traditional Jamaica ska, similar to what you'd find on Soul Jazz records LPs and they nailed it perfectly. The keys led the charge with most of the melody and it moved most of the folks on the floor to shuffle their feet a bit. While I don't think that they're a constant touring/live act, if you've got the chance, I'd recommend seeing them, as it's like a bit of time capsule back to Jamaica in the early 60's.

Bay Area rudies the Soul Captives took the stage next, and rocked us with their blend of ska and soul similar to a melding of the Pietasters early, mellower moments and the Slackers. In fact, if you took out the majority of the Slackers' punk/rock influences and instead put some Latin and a touch of hip-hop, you'd nail their sound right on the head. It was a mix of instrumentals and songs with vocals, with some of the vocals being filled by Lori, the "newest captive" in their group. Rather than the stereotypical "girl ska" voice (see: Gwen Stefani, Monique Powell), she had a voice that reminded me of the Selecter's Pauline Black or any of the number of early Jamaican voices. Beautiful.

As LA's kings of dirty reggae took the stage, the crowd filled out and moved up. After a bit of trouble with the bass guitar, the Aggrolites unleashed their torrent of skinhead reggae and roots rock on us for over an hour. The majority of the crowd was moving, and every song moved right into the next, with the oddly Wahlberg-looking frontman Jesse leading the crowd in singalongs for "Pop the Trunk" and a few others, and kept the energy up the whole time. After leaving stage for a few seconds, they proceeded to take us all to the moon with their rendition of the seminal "Skinhead Moonstomp." Good god, I've rarely heard that song done so well. After that, a cover of the Beatles' "Don't Let Me Down," roughed and sexed up in their own peculiar manner. Overall, they left the house soaked from dancing, and happy as can be.

This show encapsulated all that was mostly missing in the mid-90's ska explosions: roots, reggae, and rock. Grab some tickets and and your boots, then go see any of these bands when you can. A+++

Photos from the show