By Juan Jusino, Tampa Correspondent
Venue: Crowbar, Tampa, Florida–October 2, 2015–Voodoo Glow Skulls, Wolf Face, Piñata Protest, and The Phenomenauts
I was introduced to ska music as a teen in Puerto Rico during the early ’90s. At the time, the genre was very popular in the island, thanks to bands like Los Pies Negros, Skapulario and La Mancha Del Jardin. In those pre-internet days, my avenue of music discovery was through a friend who worked at the local video store. Jimmy was an avid rock/metal/punk/thrash music enthusiast that would always introduce me to the latest and greatest. If you could name it–he already had it. One night, he asked me if I ever listened to “ska in English”. After responding with a puzzled “no”, he pressed ‘play’ on a cassette tape titled “Question the Answers”, by a band called The Mighty Mighty Bosstones. The perfect mix of Ska tones accompanied by horns and gritty punk rock distortions got me hooked immediately and helped cement the Ska-Punk genre as my favorite for many years to come.
Before the nu-metal explosion of the late ’90’s and early-2000’s, there was a third wave of ska. Although this wave began in the ’80s, it saw a boom in popularity in the mid-to-late ’90s, thanks to bands like Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Reel Big Fish, Rancid, Less Thank Jake, Goldfinger, No Doubt and Sublime. Another popular band during that time was Voodoo Glow Skulls, a ska-punk band from Riverside, California. I first heard of Voodoo Glow Skulls when they released Baile de Los Locos (1997), and just like with most bands of this genre at the time, I fell in love with them. Needless to say, when I heard they would be performing in town 18 years after first heard of them–I was all in!
The Opening Acts:
The first band to take the stage was a local act by the name of Wolf-Face. A punk group has created a tribute/parody show around the Michel J. Fox 1985 movie Teen Wolf complete with matching “Beavers” basketball uniforms and werewolf masks. Wolf-Face delivered a funny yet original, old-school punk rock performance.
The next band to take the stage was Piñata Protest, a lively accordion-wielding punk quadruplet from San Antonio, Texas. Piñata Protest beautifully combined punk rock with Norteño music (a popular Mexican music genre easily recognized by its defining accordion sounds). With a unique and original style, it was refreshing to see them perform this catchy and unique mix.
Up next were The Phenomenauts from Oakland, California, a band that combines rock ‘n’ roll, new wave, and punk rock with a sci-fi presentation. If I had to define this next band in one sentence, it would be this: “You don’t need to play an arena to put on a spectacle!” The Phenomenauts put on a show that one would not expect to see at a small venue like the Crowbar. With a scene full of spinning lights, smoke, spacesuits, space-helmets, toilet paper dispensing apparatuses and a stage set that looks like it was pulled straight out of a ’70s sci-fi flick, The Phenomenauts delivered an impressive performance that is definitely worth seeing. If you get a chance, go see this band!
The Main Event:
Finally, the moment that I had been waiting for since I was high school! Voodoo Glow Skulls finally took the stage shortly after midnight and immediately unleashed a full load of the aggressive ska-punk sound that has defined them for so long. As soon as Frank Casillas came out wearing his signature “Lucha Libre” mask, the crowd full of hard-core fans already knew that Voodoo Glow Skulls was ready to deliver that heavy ska-punk sound that they’ve come to love. There was no time to record the show with cell phones. This show was all about hard-core ska-punk, dancing, jumping and a mosh pit that remained active until the last song. With a set of about 20 songs that included classics like “Shoot the Moon”, “El Coo Cooi” and “Charlie Brown”, Voodoo Glow Skulls delivered a stellar performance that clearly shows why they have remained relevant since their formation 20 years ago.
There is something to be said about a band that manages to continue to play and tour long after their genre has fallen far away from the mainstream. With nine studio albums and a 10th due out this year, the Voodoo Glow Skulls show no intention of slowing down, and they shouldn’t. As for my 18-year long wait, it was all worth it!
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