Photo courtesy of Survay Says!.
Ska didn't die with the '90s—and six bands are aiming to prove that on Wednesday.
DiPiazzas will be filled with horns and people skankin' (which is a form of dancing where people kick up their legs) as bands like Survay Says!, The Last Slice, Be Like Max, The A-OKs, The Skariginals and Isolated Victims play the small capacity venue.
Henry Menzel, vocalist of Survay Says! from New Jersey, said the purpose of the Ska Revival tour is to show people that good ska hasn't gone anywhere, and it's not just alive in big names like Reel Big Fish and Less Than Jake. (Yes, those guys are still around, too, and they're still touring and putting out albums.)
"To me, the purpose of the Ska Revival Tour is to reinforce what Survay Says! has been putting into motion in our years of tour; to let people know that there are young, talented bands in this day and age still making this music and trying to get it to people," Menzel said.
He said those who do know about the ska scene are tight-knit within it: if you're a kid from the ska scene and go to any Streetlight Manifesto, Aquabats or Suburban Legends show by yourself, within minutes you'll find someone you recognize. And because the music is generally upbeat, it's not too hard to end up dancing with friends, aquaintances or even strangers.
Menzel admits the ska scene is small, but he's hoping tours like this one will help expand it.
"For the most part, we take care of our own pretty well," he said. "The problem we have is welcoming more people into it and making them feel part of it. I'd say there's a sect of people that have been part of it for so long, they've lost faith in any new ideas. It could be my naïveté, but I still believe in this music."
But belief alone doesn't mean the tour has been easy. According to Menzel, it's been a do-it-yourself endeavor with a side of help from OverEasy Booking. For the most part, the guys have had to choose cities that they felt would accept their sound then book venues in those areas.
Other tour problems are aplenty, he said, referring to The Last Slice's van being broken into in Miami where the band lost most of their personal belongings and gear. But the commaderie of the ska scene has helped The Last Slice get back on their feet, and the band was able to re-join the tour in Texas over the weekend.
Controversy has also surrounded the tour, with a member of a different band, Be Like Max, allegedly making derogatory comments about women and gay people at a past show, leading one fan to take to social media in retaliation. The band then took it one step further and began making more jokes. Charley Fine, vocalist of Be Like Max, has since come out apologizing for the incident and said he hopes it doesn't affect people going to the tour.
Be Like Max. Photo courtesy of the band.
"The internet and social media can be a crazy place where statements are manipulated and blown out of proportion, and that is exactly what has happened in this matter," he said. "I feel horrible with the route I chose because my actions caused negativity within the most positive scene that exists. Though there is no excuse for what I've said, it is important people understand the loving people Be Like Max are."
The bands of the tour, despite the public outcry, have stood by Be Like Max's side in these times of controversy. While Menzel remainds concerned how Fine's remarks will affect the Southern California shows, he maintains that people should still come out to the tour because of all the hard work that is continuously being put into it.
"Our livelihood depends on shows going well," he said. "Anything putting that in jeopardy is serious to all of us."
Nate Phung, who plays with Isolated Victims and currently attends Cal State Long Beach, said he believes Fine's remarks shouldn't affect people coming to Wednesday's show.
"Long Beach is a super diverse town full of people of all colors and sexual orientations," he said. "Are you afraid fewer people may show up to the DiPiazzas show because of what Be Like Max said? People should go to this tour if they support the scene. I am concerned that the snafu with Be Like Max might affect the crowd, but there is comfort in knowing that the people who look at the big picture and truly support ska, local and touring bands, and the DIY community will come out while those who are polarizing and perpetuating the sitation will probably not be at the show... The tour is ambitious in scope since it's a nationwide tour done very DIY in nature. It's making a statement and it can very much be a catalyst for other ska bands nationwide to follow suit."
The Ska Revival Tour will be coming to DiPiazzas on Wednesday at 7PM. Tickets are $10 at the door. For more information and a complete tour schedule, visit www.facebook.com/skarevivaltour.