There are a few constants in the Midwest: July is not only hot, but humid and sticky as well. Along with that, you can always count on the indoor venues of the town to cool you off with some killer tunes. Friday, July 12th at the Uptown was a perfect place to be to escape the heat, mosquitos, and humidity of the Kansas City summer.
As always, our fearless leader was in attendance, as well as my dumbass: I decided it would be a great idea to WALK to the venue. Even though it’s not even a mile, the uphill walk in the sun was instantly regrettable. Oh well, you live and you learn. Oh wait, no I don’t – I did the same walk for Garbage a few years back – and it was just as hot, humid, and uphill. Maybe this is why I can’t be trusted around the expensive camera equipment…
By the time I arrived at the venue, I was out of breath from jogging and in desperate need of a brewski. (Shout out again to the bar at the front of the Uptown – they really know how to take care of their patrons.) Cooled off from the tallest PBR they offered, I couldn’t help but notice the large amount of little kids in attendance. Did I stumble onto some punk rock themed Wiggles show? (more on this later) Determined to solve this mystery, I sauntered down the darkened side hall to find a place to check out our openers for the evening – Six Percent.
Honestly, I had no idea what to expect from this band – I’ve been out of the ska scene since high school, so my knowledge is extremely limited. I expected horns and some energetic tunes, but Six Percent’s set delivered far beyond my expectation. This seven-piece band from our own backyard of Kansas City has been doing their thing since 2010. Along they way, they’ve shared the stage not only with ska staples like The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, but harder acts such as Norma Jean and Slipknot. The best way I can describe Six Percent is hardcore punk with a horn section. Imagine the punk rock kids in high school were smoking cigs out back, ran into a few band kids, and formed a band – a really good band! Their set was a blast, too! Towards the end of the set, they brought up some local youngsters to fill out the brass section, and those kids did one hell of a job. Six Percent: you’re doing fine by Kansas City.
Next up was The Aquabats. Going into this show, all I really knew about The Aquabats was that Travis Barker from Blink-182 used to drum for them before he joined Blink. Then it struck me – The Aquabats were also featured on Yo Gabba Gabba! (Christian Jacobs aka The MC Bat Commander is a co-creator of the show) Additionally, they also created the successful Aquabats Super Show!
Adults and children alike witnessed a stage show like no other from The Aquabats. In addition to their zany crime-fighting personas, the stage show was more than just a musical performance. Blending their sound of punk and new wave with an interactive stage show, the Aquabats wowed the crowd with inflatable sharks and even a large inflatable pizza. The kids on the pizza will never forget that moment – and what a cool moment indeed. Although I feel a little aged seeing my peers as parents, it’s truly a heart-warming experience seeing punk rock parents pass down their fandom down to their tiny little headbangers.
Reel Big Fish is to ska as Reverend Horton Heat is to rockabilly: they’ve been doing it for a long damn time, they have a dedicated following, and they’re not stopping anytime soon. By the time RBF got to the stage, the hall was packed! Dedicated fans dressed in checker-boarded clothing formed skankin’ pits wherever they could, and getting to the front of the stage was nearly impossible. Playing a healthy mix of old favorites such as Sell Out, new songs like Life Sucks, Let’s Dance, and even a smattering of covers, like The Joker by the Steve Miller band, Reel Big Fish proved that despite band members coming and going, their energy and the ability to get the crowd up and dancing will go on as long as people like ska.
Words by Dallas Hessel
Photos by Josh Chaikin