with The Supervillians and The Corks
Orlando, FL • Feb. 2, 2005
Much in the way that Rock ‘n’ Roll was declared “over” in the ’70s, Ska has been proclaimed “dead” for years. Apparently no one told Orlando. Anytime ska pioneers The Toasters come to town, it’s a packed house — this trip around being no exception. Twenty-four years after the band was developed from the mind of guitarist/vocalist Rob “Bucket” Hingley, who wanted to bring his Two Tone tastes to the States, they’re still turning fans on to the musical legacy first popularized in the ’60s. Fans of the Third Wave ska movement — popularized by bands like Mighty Mighty Bosstones and Operation Ivy — owe Hingley a “thank you” because were it not for his Moon Ska record label bringing the music back onto the scene, a lot of those bands may have never gotten heard.
Florida has always had its share of ska bands. One in particular, Gainesville’s Less Than Jake, took their punk-influenced ska all the way to the mainstream when they signed to a major label in 1995. Since then, ska-punk bands have flooded the local scene. Most of these bands are just trying to capitalize on the sound of LTJ and end up sounding like buffoons. As much can be said about opening band, The Corks.
The Supervillians, conversely, have been on the fast track to stardom within the Orlando community for several years. They’ve broken attendance records, for a local act, at both the House of Blues and the Hard Rock Live. They’re the two-time winner of the title “Best Punk Band” by the Orlando Weekly paper. Not only were they the openers for The Toasters’ Orlando gig, they’re on the whole tour. The welcome they received from their hometown crowd is warm, to say the least. The mostly teenage crowd ate up The Supervillians’ ritalin-charged, smoke-’em-if-ya-got-’em, Sublime-ish sounds. By the end of their performance, and at the invitation of lead singer/vocalist Skart, they had about 30 girls onstage dancing with them. Though their brand of ska-punk has been done many times over, they still found a way to make it fresh and entertaining.
The first thing that comes to mind as The Toasters walk out onto the stage is how unassuming they all are. These guys have been doing this for years, either with this band or with others, and they have none of the “rockstar egos” you so often find in such veteran players. One by one (there are six of them), they picked up their instruments and either plug in or tune up. Without announcement or buildup, vocalists Hingley and Andrew “Jack Ruby Jr.” Lindo, greeted the crowd and started to play. Without pause, a circle pit formed and the skankin’ began.
They plowed through a collection of two decades’ worth of material, songs like “Don’t Let the Bastards Grind You Down,” “Weekend in L.A.,” and “Run Rudy Run,” effortlessly. They talked to the crowd between songs. As an introduction to “Pirate Radio,” Hingley offered an explanation about the pirate radio stations offshore of London that he listened to when he was young, to which Lindo added, “Florida has got the most pirate radio stations in the country!” I don’t know if that’s true or not, but I’d like to hope so! It’s better to be known for underground radio than for Disney World.The onstage relationship between Hingley and Lindo is what makes this band special. Hingley kind of hangs off to the side, offering the melodies and the structure. Lindo takes over the rest of the stage, clutching the microphone in one hand and a bottle of beer in the other. He offers the funk, and the controlled chaos. For example, Supervillians’ bassist, Tito, kept stumbling drunkenly onto the stage to join in on The Toasters’ act. He’d sing into the mic’s, and remind everyone (again) that it was his 22nd birthday. Lindo put up with this good-naturedly, acting like the big brother who’s trying to let his kid bro have some time in the spotlight. Finally, he hoisted Tito up and tossed him over his shoulder, helping him off the stage once and for all. This move could easily have dampened the light mood of the evening, but instead it added a touch of comedy.
The Toasters are nothing if not professional. You’d have to be to have kept at it for so many years, even after you’ve been told the music you play has had its day in the sun. Throughout it all, they’ve kept it independent. Everything is on their terms. Moon Ska has shut its doors, but Hingley has replaced it with a new project, Megalith Records. With it he’ll continue to support the ska tradition he’s become a part of.