Floor Stomping Ska, On A Friday Night

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Stomp Records 17th Anniversary Show in Toronto April 13th 2012
Concert promoted by Collective Concerts

Review: Ian Robertson
Photos: Michell Foran

As I was walking up to the Opera House, around 10:05 p.m.,  I knew I was unfortunately too late to see the first 2 opening acts Ghetto Blaster (Toronto Punk/Ska) and The Beatdown (Montreal Soul/Ska). I was hoping I wasn't too late to see Big D & The Kids Table. This would be my third time seeing them live so I knew they would be putting on an amazing show as well with the headliners, The Planet Smashers. I was dealing with the tedious task of getting past the door security when I  heard the music beginning to play, which made me anxious to get in and get to see the band.

As soon as I walked in close enough to see the stage, I heard David McWane (lead singer of Big D & The Kids Table) say, "as you may have already guessed, we are Big D & The Kids Table from Boston", then the band went directly into "Myself" (off their second Album Goodluck) which made myself as well as everybody else that loves Big D, excited because most bands (that have made eight albums)  don't usually play their older songs. Dave later explained they were doing their set in chronological order.

Big D & The Kids TableBig D & The Kids TableI haven't been to a punk or ska show with an excellent circle pit  (where people actually knew what skanking was) since I saw Suicide Machines in December of 2010. But this show at the Opera House had it. After they played "Steady Riot" off their album Strictly Rude, Dave showed a connection to the audience by saying that the girl in the very front, being pushed up against the stage, was the toughest one in the crowd. She held her spot while being squished, head knocked by crowd surfers, and her glasses breaking as she held on to them.

I don't think the band played any tracks off their album Fluent In Stroll, but they did play tracks of their newest album For the Damned, The Dumb & the Delirious. They explained when they asked their record label for money to record the CD they were turned down, so every engineer, producer, and recording studio was provided to them free. "If you're a nice person and generous, it will come back to you. Same goes if you're not," David said. Hearing the song "Rotten" (off the new album) live, showed the energy and true sound that I think Big D is all about. It made me want to buy the album. They ended with their song entitled "L.A.X."  from  How It Goes, which of course got everybody in the pit so they could get out their anger, of hating rich people who think they are better than everybody else, "My Friends are f***ing awesome and we'll keep on doing our best even though our lives are a mess."

The Planet SmashersThe Planet SmashersThe tired crowd had about 10 minutes to rest before The Planet Smashers hit the stage. They started setting up their gear which I admired since they could easily get people to do it for them, but not this humble ska band. The drummer sat on his stool, I thought he too was checking his levels, but nope he counted in and they started off their set with their explosive track "Missionary's Downfall" off their fourth album Mighty. Immediately the whole crowd started bouncing up and down and singing  "I cant be bothered with the nine to five", which reminded us, "hey forget your stress of work, tonight is about having fun". After a couple songs, the band left the stage except for Dave Cooper (bassist). He was left alone singing a slow ballad,  explaining how he is "the coolest guy in the whole world" which cracked everyone up.

The band came back on and Matt Collyer (guitarist/lead singer of the band and owner of Stomp Records), starting making jokes with Dave, asked the crowd "Hey did you guys come here to party", then the band went into their song "Life Of The Party" which got the crowd skanking again. After the song Matt pulled Crowley (guitarist/singer of opening act Ghetto Blaster) to chug some wine the band had on stage.

The band played a few tracks off their new album Decent Into the Valley Of The Planet Smashers, but the one that stuck out the most memorable "The Hippopotamus" because THEY HAD A HIPPOPOTAMUS COME OUT AND DANCE!  Well someone dressed as a hippopotamus at least. Their new album is full of the classic Planet Smashers sound; bouncy beat, catchy lyrics, hilarious, and feel good ska music. The band broke out with their song "Surfing In Tofino" off Life Of The Party, which had Planet Smashers fans stoked because they knew something special was about to happen. When ever they play this song live, they have the crowd either do the wall of death (crowd separates then count to ten and run at each other) or sit on the ground. By the time this happens Matt asked the people up front "Wall of death or sit down?". They decided the sit down. They have the whole crowd bend down to their knees and as the surf drums are going, and everybody counts to ten, "7 8 9 10", then the whole crowd jumps up like a rocky ocean screaming "surfing in Tofino, were going surfing in Tofino".

They ended their set with their song that all skateboarders love "Sk8 Or Die" off No Self Control, which ends with a heavy punk riff shouting "Skate or die!". All the crowd surfers knew this was their time to shine. Even the bass player of Creepshow (Toronto psychobilly band) McNabb, gave the security a hand with the people jumping on stage. When they finished the crowd still didn't have enough so they came back on playing the fan favourite "Super Orgy Porno Party" off Life Of the Party, which was a great way to end the night. Everyone looked as if they were zombies. They were bruised, tired, and walking as a mass toward the doors.

With the crowd full of sweaty teenage angst that gives the security a job to deal with their jumping on stage to sing a lyric, then  jump onto the crowd for a stage dive and a circle pit that went all night, Toronto proved that they still have a scene that listens to punk and ska music and know what to do at a show.