Opening Bands: Against All Authority, Westbound Train
Date: October 12th 2006
Venue: Mr. Smalls Theatre, Millvale, PA
Mustard Plug is one of those few bands that I’ll go out of my way to see no matter what. Why, you ask? Mustard Plug was my first ever concert in Pittsburgh and I’ve seen them at about eight different places in the Burgh. Every time they go on tour, they always come to Pittsburgh. Always. So I make it a point to support them when they come around. There was also an added bonus to checking Mustard Plug out this time…they were playing with Against All Authority. I’ve only managed to see them on the Warped Tour once for about fifteen minutes. I’m not a big fan of much of their stuff since “All Fall Down” came out but I still wanted to see them live.
The show was supposed to start at eight, which it usually never does, so I was mulling around for a bit hitting up the toy stores until about seven and was going to grab a bite to eat but I decided to just head out to the show. With five bands playing, I thought that they might start early. It was a good thing too, because I arrived there at about 25 after seven and the first band came on a couple of minutes after.
Up first was a local Pittsburgh ska band (yeah Pittsburgh has a ska scene…you’d be surprised) called the Masters of the Universe. I was extremely disappointed when I found out that a band by that name was playing instead of getting to see He-Man and Skeletor team up against King Hiss and the Snakemen for complete control of Eternia. Oh well. You have to go with what life throws you. Masters were more of a punk band with horns with a few ska breakdowns and one actual ska song. They were ok, but I wasn’t that into them. Neither was anyone else in the room apparently because no one was moving.
Right after the Masters of the Universe, the next band up was the Code, another local band who plays ska-tinged punk rock with a political message ala Anti-Flag…more punk than ska though. I’ve seen them a couple of times before and I would have to say that I’m not a big fan of them either. What’s the point or writing a punk song about global warming anyway? Don’t they realize that when you drive around in a van while on tour that you’re pretty much contradicting yourself? The crowd was into them though. They’re breaking up and it was their last Pittsburgh show. I guess the global warming finally caught up to them. Do it for the environment!!!
I would have to say that the best thing about the two opening bands was that both bands didn’t play for very long. That leaves more time for Against All Authority and Mustard Plug. Before that though, I had one more band to listen to…Westbound Train. They hail from the home of the Bosstones. If you don’t know where that is then you shouldn’t be reading this in the first place. I’ve heard of Westbound Train before, but I don’t think that I have ever listened to anything of theirs to date. I had a feeling that they had a more traditional ska sound similar to the Slackers and this was confirmed when the band came on stage with more than two horns and a keyboard. I liked their overall sound and they had a few songs with some energy but overall, I thought that they sounded stale and boring at times and most of their songs sounded the same. The ska kids got to dance their little checkered belts right off their pants though. A funny thing that happened was when the singer told the audience that this was the “Skank And Destroy Tour” and that he saw some skanking but he didn’t see any destroying. He then proceeded to tell the crowd that he wanted to see some destroying and then the band played their slowest song of the night. Yeah. That’ll really whip the crowd into a frenzy. Overall, Westbound Train played the smooth sounding ska that I know and love, but I don’t think that I’ll be picking up any of their albums.
After what seemed like two hours worth of opening bands…which it was, the main attractions were about to begin. Against All Authority took the stage with well; authority and finally the destroying had begun. A massive circle pit erupted from the floor and engulfed everything. Now I was expecting AAA to play more of a punk set with their last two albums leaning more towards that than the ska sound that they used to play, but I was surprised to hear that they were playing a lot of songs from “All Fall Down” and “Destroy What Destroys You”. Niiiice. Their set was as ruthless and as skankable as anything that I have ever seen before and it was awesome. The only thing that bothered me was that the vocals seemed even harder to understand then usual. I credit that to the sound system that seemed off all night. Before I knew it, AAA was done and it would probably be another eight years before I get to see them again. With them, Against All Authority must have taken about two thirds of the audience with them. Like myself, it seemed that most people were there to see AAA first and foremost. Unlike them, I was staying. Even though I would probably only get five hours of sleep, I mean, come on now…it’s Mustard Plug and they never disappoint me.
With the place almost empty, Mustard Plug took the stage. Since they haven’t released a new album recently, I was curious as to what the set list would be composed of. I’ve heard that they have been writing a new album, so I figured that they would break out a couple of those songs. And they did. And they were good. And they played a lot of older songs, mostly off of “Evildoers Beware”. It felt like this was a Hopeless Records CD release tour circa 1997. There was some good crowd sing-a-longs to You, and Go and some crazy skank pits for Mr. Smiley and Lolita. I’m sure that the band noticed that most of the crowd was gone but they didn’t seem to mind much and their set had a very personal feel to it. The guys in Mustard Plug chatted with audience members and took and played requests. The thing is though that Mustard Plug does that at every show that they play. They’re fun, always full of energy and can really get the crowd going with the song that they always close on…the fabled Beer Song. As usual, the place erupted into blurry visions of flailing arms and legs and bobbing sweaty heads flinging sweat everywhere.
Being the first stop on the “Skank And Destroy” tour, the headlining bands could have been lazy and not really into the tour groove yet but both Mustard Plug and Against All Authority came out swinging with the best ska punk set that I have heard in awhile. Even though I wasn’t impressed with any of the opening bands, there were a good variety of musical styles that anyone into the underground punk and ska scene could enjoy. Here’s to a successful tour and to getting Mustard Plug and Against All Authority back in Pittsburgh soon. If every show on this tour is as fun as the one that I attended, then maybe the “Skank And Destroy” tour will be an ongoing thing. And that would be a good thing.