Who let ska die? Who allowed this genre that had so much potential to flourish into a genre of music that everyone could find something they liked start to decay into oblivion? Well, it certainty was not Streetlight Manifesto, the most forward thinking, ambitious, talented ska group that has ever come out of the genre. Their 2013 release, The Hands That Thieve, was such a beautiful masterpiece and rendition of what true ska is that it is almost impossible to not only dance insanely every time it comes on, but to never turn it off. Ever.
I saw the true power of this band right in front of me for the first time this semester. Most people I know seem to just have an inherent knowledge and love of the band so when I finally met someone this year that didn’t know about them but was intrigued enough to learn, I finally had someone that I could convert into a believer instead of just another fellow lover to reminisce with. It started with taking him to see them live of course, the true way into anyone’s musical heart is to see a band live and Streetlight is the epitome of that statement. Seeing the band live increases the love astronomically and with my roommate it was the same. I did not realize I had converted him though, until about a week later. He had told me he had fun and I believed him, but about a week after we saw the band, it was three in the morning when I got home and I found him lying on our couch, just listening to The Hands That Thieve on repeat. He had been doing it since I left, almost five hours ago. He was obsessed, he couldn’t get enough and watching him fall in love with what may actually be my favorite band of all time brought tears to my eyes and reminded me of all the memories I had associated with the music from this band.
No band has this power. No band can create such instant love and joy in a person. I stand by this statement and will die believing it, and watching my roommate fall in love so head over heals just reiterates it to me again and again. Now it takes a certain kind of person, someone ready for something new, someone who appreciates the intricacies of music and someone full of untapped emotion for the power of Streetlight Manifesto to really take hold, but if you have what it takes, this band can just take over your mind and heart alike.
I still can’t put on a Streetlight song without my face just breaking into smile every single time. The horns, the ska strumming on guitar, the raspy, lovely voice of Toh Kay, it literally almost brings tears to my eyes every time. I used to not be able to put my finger on why this was. Now, almost four years into my love affair with the band, I am beginning to understand that there are just too many memories wrapped up in their music for me to ever listen to their music the same again. I have ex- girlfriends and huge life changes like moving out, and road trips and birthday parties and just about every major life happening somehow involved with a Streetlight Manifesto song.
The reason I was so drawn to this music to help me basically represent my whole teenage years is because for one, the music is emotional. The lyrics talk about life and how to live it to the fullest and all manner of fairly serious topics. What Streetlight Manifesto then does with these lyrics though is unlike any other band; they add the greatest genre of music to back it. Ska has everything I could ever want out of music, with intricate, complicated horn licks, a rock basis with a punk pace driving the entire product, it has the energy of punk but the added spice of a horn section that is never, ever really seen unless it is under the genre of ska. In other words, it is just perfect and finding it at my most emotional time in my life allowed it to become that involved in my life.
Maybe if some other genre of music had been with me through some of my most angsty moments of my life I would love another band, but there wasn’t. This was fate essentially, because I could have listened to anything in times of sadness but I didn’t for whatever reason and now all I can think is how glad I chose this band all those years ago. So yes this may be the perfect combination of genres into a super one that just fits my personality perfectly, or maybe I was just touched by God himself and nudged in the direction of what truly is the most joyous music ever created. Who is really to say in the end, all I know is that Streetlight Manifesto has done something for me no other band has and I will follow them until the end of time.