I feel like I grew up on ska shows. I still remember the first time I skanked, it was at Ampd my junior year in high school when I went to see the Big Spank for the first time. I was so self-conscious with the frantic pace of the music and was worried I would mess up the flow or do something wrong and suffer the wrath of the crowd. Looking back on that moment now almost two years later, I realize how foolish I was. The whole point of ska music and the whole idea behind it is to enjoy the music in whatever way possible, and if that means skanking badly so be it. Ever since that show, I developed a sort of obsession for ska and that was passed on to my brother, so now almost any chance that we come across to see any kind of ska, we take. It is just a happy, joyful music, fast paced, with little meaning besides having good summer fun. Ska is such a unique genre, where young and old can come together with a common purpose and any half decent ska band is worth seeing in my book.
So when we heard the Toasters were coming back to Albuquerque on their yearly tour we had little choice but to go and enjoy the happy music. We also happened to have a friend with a cousin who was playing bass in the band so we even got to get in for free. There were really not that many people though and it was a fairly low-key show. No assholes either and every one was just peacefully blissful with the simple music. One particular guy, about 4 foot, 5 inches that maybe weighed 85 pounds, danced literally the entire show, and the look of happiness on his face really represented what ska means to me and to anyone that listens to it: joy is easy to come by and being yourself is the key to life.
The warm up ska bands were decent, and the band we came for was even more decent. As I listened to the music and attempted to get into the crowded skank pit, I came to the realization my musical ear had grown somewhat. The last time I had seen the Toasters I was really into the music and everything about it. Now, two years later, I kind of just looked at it all as kind of me paying my respects to a genre that I grew up with, but had grown past. In that time span between shows I had fallen in love with Streetlight Manifesto, a much more complicated ska band, and hearing the simple riffs and classic beat without the meticulous horns really just sent me into a deep reminiscing state.
I love that ska can still make so many people happy, because that’s what it truly is for. It was simply nice to go out on a weekend night and spend it with fellow music lovers just looking to be happy in the depths of February.