Sonic Boom Six / The Skints - live in Leeds (Cover Artwork)

Sonic Boom Six / The Skints

live in Leeds (2009)

live show

I think I must be getting a little tired of ska, because I was just not taken by the Skints on this night. The London four-piece have started to make quite the name for themselves 'round the UK this year -- they've been picked up by Sonic Boom Six's label, Rebel Alliance Recordings, and the crowd was definitely into them. I think I would have been a year or so ago, too: they're catchy; the basslines were pounding and relentless; the songs were stuffed full of sing-along moments; and they featured a girl playing both sax and flute. It's a recipe for greatness, and it's clear to see why they're picking up fans left, right and centre, but personally, it all got a bit too simple and repetitive. Apart from the flute, which I guess makes them the ska version of Jethro Tull, there's nothing here I hadn't heard before.

From my cynical post at the bar, I was a little worried that I wasn't going to enjoy Sonic Boom Six, either. It's a relief, then, when one of Britain's biggest, best and most beloved punk bands hits the stage, all flashing lights and blaring noise, I saw no other option than to fling myself into the pit and skank away. See, Sonic Boom Six have something special and, although I've never been a massive fan of their records, they absolutely destroy live every single time. The crowd is rarely more receptive to a band, especially up north and closer to their home city of Manchester, and the atmosphere here was amazing -- most people here have seen SB6 at least once before, everyone knew the songs, and the band matched the pit's energy, bouncing around almost as much as we did, ditching their instruments for the bass and drums-driven hip-hop tracks, and bringing out just the right amount of trombone. "Sound of a Revolution" and "Piggy in the Middle" were obvious crowd-pleasers, and everyone was on such a high that the oncoming announcement seemed all the more gutting.

We were informed that Ben Childs, Sonic Boom Six's guitarist of nearly five years and the band's tallest member, is leaving the band as a touring member (we sought out Laila afterwards and she told us it's because he's getting married) and that we may never hear him on this stage again. Shock turned to stunned silence as Ben and Laila play an absolutely beautiful, stripped-back version of "Floating Away" on just guitar and vocals, and they had to actively encourage us to pick up our jaws and sing along. Things didn't slow down for too long, as they burst back into their typical onslaught, breaking out a bunch of older tracks from their first EPs until they simply couldn't do any more encores. Once again, they proved themselves as the kings of the UK scene.