Date: June 1st 2013
Bands: The Slackers, Spring Heeled Jack, MU330, Mephiskapheles, The Pietasters, The Scofflaws, Westbound Train, Thumper, Bigger Thomas
The second day of Apple Stomp was even better than Day 1 just in terms of how many great bands were on the same bill! Day 1 was more of the ska/punk bands and day 1 was the third wave type of ska bands. Both nights had their moments though.
My day started out by having a headache all day, and felt like I was hungover even though I don’t drink. You know you’re getting old when you have random headaches and all parts of your body ache just for standing for hours. I was suppose to meet up with the SHJ guys for an acoustic session for BeforeTheConcert.com but things fell through last minute. While I was hanging outside I ran into Nick of the Pilfers and decided to tag along for dinner with the Pietasters. That was interesting since I never met the band before. After scarfing down a huge plate of sweet potato fries (well half of it), I ran back to the club to try to get some shots of Bigger Thomas. Their set was halfway done and I felt bad, but I needed to eat some food before 24 hours of ska was to be had.
I’ve seen Bigger Thomas a few times now and from what I saw, they were in fine form! Roger was jumping all over the stage like he was on a trampoline. Roy Radics came on stage later in the set and sang “I Can’t Remember My Name,” and then Megg from Across the Aisle and Rude Boy George came on stage to sing “Ska In My Pocket” with the band. From the few songs I saw, the band revved up the crowd very nicely.
After Bigger Thomas, the band a lot of people were really stoked to see was Thumper. Thumper got back together for this fest and I remember seeing them a few times throughout my concert going days. They usually played with Mephiskapheles it seemed. I guess they both have that anti-religion metal/gothic feel to their sound. I thought I didn’t know that many Thumper songs but nope, I knew most of the songs in their half hour set. I particularly like the songs “All Fall Down,” “Backstabber,” and “Holy Roller” (which they opened up with). While I was taking a leak in the bathroom, I was listening to the band on the clear sound system. The band was talking about when they went on tour and got guns drawn on them. That grew a chuckle in the bathroom. I hope this isn’t Thumper’s only show because I enjoyed their set.
Westbound Train were up after Thumper, and changed the pace of the evening for a little bit with their soul, groovy ska fronted by Obi Fernandez. I’m a little fuzzy with what Westbound Train played since I was kind of just dancing way in the back and bopping my head to the music not paying attention to what songs were being played. I do remember them playing two of my favorites though (“Please Forgive Me” and “Check Your Time.”). Westbound Train is a good band to see live mainly because Obi is a great frontman, but it’s also a good band to dance to. Not fast skankin’ but a skank nonetheless.
The Scofflaws were suppose to go on next but I believe they weren’t all there yet so the Pietasters went on. I don’t know what is it, but I haven’t seen the Pietasters in a long ass time! I can’t believe it’s been that long because they were one of my favorites of the entire fest. I’ve seen them a lot in the 90s and early 00s but can’t remember the last time I saw them. Nick Bacon of the Pilfers joined in for their set on guitar. They started off with “Maggie Mae” and Steve Jackson was already at the top of his game. His style of stumbling, and moving fast across the stage has always amused me. Just when I try to take a picture of him, he’s gone like a drunken Flash. At one point he was kicking people, slapping the bassist in the face or climbing onto guitarist. It was quite hilarious to see. Other songs they played included “Night Owl,” “Biblical Sense” “Girl Take It Easy” and “Out All Night.” It’s been far too long since seeing the Pietasters but I’m going to make it a note to see them a lot more!
All of the Scofflaws showed up after the Pietasters set. Their lineup was somewhat different than the last time I saw them just a few months ago at Characters. Jared was on t-bone still and Sammy was there of course. I warned the band beforehand that they better play “William Shatner” but I guess the new guys didn’t know it yet. Bummer, I was really looking forward to hearing that one live again. They did play some fun tunes like “Back Door Open” and “Nude Beach” though. I think at one point people were screaming for Shatner but Sammy said the new guys didn’t know it. See, I warned them haha!
Now the next band that was supposed to play was Mu330. BUT things kind of got messed up with the Oklahoma tornados that happened on Friday night. Dan P and Gerry were in NYC on Friday but the rest of the band wasn’t so all their flights were canceled on Saturday. Really sucked for the guys in the band that wanted to play this, and sucky for the fans who wanted to see the full lineup. The awesome man that Dan P is didn’t cancel though and gathered up a bunch of other guys from other bands (mainly Pilfers, Flaming Tsunamis, Bomb The Music Industry members) and gave them a crash course in learning Mu330 songs. Basically this could have been a disaster but ended up being one of the more memorable things of the entire Apple Stomp.
Not only were they good, but so entertaining as well. Dan was giving me rock poses and finger points like he did the last time I photographed him. Gerry was ripping his shirt off like Hulk Hogan like he usually does. They were all dancing around the stage without a care in the world. They kept switching up guitarists because some didn’t know some songs. At one point Dan called out to anyone that knows how to play the guitar really well. One kid did and ended up NAILING “La.” I believe he might have been in another band from what I’ve been reading but nonetheless, it was awesome. The Dan P/ Gerry Mu330 version band didn’t play “Hoosier Love” like they intended since Dan likes to talk in between songs so they ran out of time. They did play “Stuff” though, which is one of the very first ska songs I’ve ever heard! I really, really wish Mu330 decides to play again in NYC and play a headline show for that matter because I really miss these guys playing live.
Up next was Mephiskapheles, which had the lineup around the time their third album came out but a lot of the guys there have played with Meph at some point. I was hoping they would have worked out things and had Brendog come out to play “Saba.” Like usual, they opened up with “Mephiskapheles” and the place was going nuts. After that they played “Centre Of The..” and then Calloused Boy from Might-Ay White-Ay. As much as I like this lineup, I still miss the days of Brendog, Hollywood, Alexander and others in the lineup. Oh well, can’t have everything in life. Other songs the band played included “Satan on the Beach,” “Bad John,” and “Break Your Ankle Punk.” They finished with the ska classic “Doomsday” which got the entire dance floor skankin’. I would have been dancing too if I didn’t have all my equipment on me.
After Meph, Spring Heeled Jack which included a horn section was up! Vinny Nobile showed up again to play trombone and Tyler was playing trumpet. Nick Bacon continued to be all over Apple Stomp and played keys for SHJ. The band started things off with “Mass Appeal Madness” and then they went into “Electric.” They mainly focused on their second album. I wished they broke out “Pay Some Dues” and “Running Man” though. Of course “Jolene” got the biggest reaction from the crowd, as it should since I think it’s their best song to date. Like many other bands at Apple Stomp, SHJ was running late and wanted to keep playing.
The final act of Apple Stomp (well besides the after parties) was The Slackers. Very few people left but a lot of people stuck around to catch the Slackers . All the people that remain were dancing and having a friggin’ blast still. The Slackers started things off with “Cleo” and then went into “Know.” They later on played “Keep Him Away” which is one of my favorites from the band. I’ve seen the Slackers a few times but not since around 2006 or so when they opened for the Pogues at then Nokia Theatre. Sadly, I stayed for only about 7 songs because I really needed to get some sleep. I had to wake up early the next morning or else I would have stayed out longer. From what I saw, the band was on fire and sounded amazing!
Well this concludes these giant ass reviews of Apple Stomp. I would have to say: MISSION ACCOMPLISHED! Practically sold out back to back nights at Irving Plaza with mostly ska music. Ska is back and can’t wait to see what’s in store for next year! Bands I’d love to see play next year (and re-form): The Toasters (Dub 56 / Hard Band For Dead lineup), The Hotknives, The Smooths, Hepcat, Bad Manners, Edna’s Goldfish, Sgt Scagnetti, Mustard Plug, The Aquabats, Let’s Go Bowling, Planet Smashers and Buck O Nine. An even bigger Apple Stomp festival!
All the photos will be posted at my photography site SkaPunkPhotos.com throughout the week