Bands: Pilfers, Mephiskapheles, Spring Heeled Jack, Hub City Stompers, Rude Boy George, Sgt. Scagnetti
Date: July 19th 2019
Radicsfest, the show that I’ve been apart of since January finally happened and it was a hot, sweaty blast! The show’s concept started out with just 4 bands somewhere local in NJ or NYC, and perhaps having it on my birthday. Coolie Ranx decided to add 2 more bands to the lineup and dedicate it to Roy Radics, who passed away a few years ago. Gramercy Theatre was a nice spot to have it and we were lucky to have it there. I’d rather have it there than in Brooklyn, since would have been further away for me to get to. I guess I shouldn’t complain going an extra 20-30 minutes when people came from overseas, Hawaii, Ohio, and other states just to see this show.
My brother and I got to the city a little bit before doors, and I wanted to get to the NHL store in midtown for a hat. Of course, the trip was a waste since the store barely had any decent Rangers hats. We ended up walking down to 33rd to get pizza, and then walked to Gramercy. So we basically walked 25 blocks in 95 degree weather. Wasn’t really smart but didn’t want to get stuck in a subway if there was a blackout.
We arrived at Gramercy and people were still trickling in when Sgt. Scagnetti went on. With 6 bands, doors were early and Sgt Scag went on at 7. I was a little nervous it was going to stay like that but thankfully it didn’t. Sax player Mike was urging the crowd to come down and dance, and mentioned something about Top Gun 2 trailer. I always love to see Sgt. Scagnetti, and their recent resurgence has made me happy since they are so much fun live. They even had some new material too! They played “Murder House” and their brand new single “Cultination.” The song was made for/with No Worries Brewing Company. They played songs like “Dirt Bike Kid” “Animal” “Ives Manor,” “Twenty Seven Sense” and finished things off with my favorite of theirs, “Sideshow.” Right at the end, they had to get the crowd against them with bringing up that New Haven pizza is supposedly better than NYC pizza. I, of course, booed the hell out of them.
In-between sets, DJ Yana Lil-Jerk was spinning some great old school ska, rocksteady and reggae for the crowd and people went downstairs to look at the merch or go melt outside. Apparently there was a ticket printing issue at the box office and some people were stuck out there for a bit.
Up next was Rude Boy George, the band I’ve probably seen the most in the last 6 years. I haven’t seen the band in 2 years though, and not with the new lineup either so I was excited! Jenny is a great addition, and she brought her flute-playing skills to the band which I freakin’ loved! The cover of “Close To Me” sounds extra cool now because of that flute. If only RBG was a Tull cover band. They played a few songs you might have heard before at one of their shows, but they also broke out some “new” material as well. An excellent cover of Rod Stewart’s “The Young Turks” and Thompson Twins’ “Lies,” which Roger dedicated to Trump. I’ve been listening a lot to Rod Stewart’s “The Young Turks” but more so of “Tonight I’m Yours.” I blame RBG for this haha. Towards the end of the set, the moment I was especially waiting for was when Sal Polichetti from Sonseed came out to perform the viral hit “Jesus Is My Friend.” It was everything I’d hope it could be and sounds like they will be re-recording it with Sal as well. Praise Be!
After RBG, was Dirty Jersey’s Hub City Stompers. By this point, the club had filled in quite nicely and I’d say the crowd was also the most rowdy. The skankin’ circle pit was intense from what I saw. The band played some songs like “The Game” and “Sharky 17,” songs Travis wrote while in Inspecter 7. They also played “Skins Don’t Cry,” which always makes laugh. Rob Tierney from the NY Citizens came out and performed a NY Citizens song “Sticky Situation,” which was cool to see. They played their Roy Radics dedication song “Distance Water,” which was obviously fitting. The band raised their glasses for him. Other songs that were played off Hater’s Dozen included a song that Jenny sang, which was “Hard Place To Be” and then they finished things up with “Hub City Stomp.” I like the horns in “Hub City Stomp” a lot, when it picks up. Awesome set from the band and if you haven’t picked up Hater’s Dozen yet, be sure to do that!
Spring Heeled Jack were up next, and the last time I saw them play was at Apple Stomp 6 years ago at Irving Plaza. They have a new lineup besides a few people and Nick from Pilfers was still playing keys for them again though. Nick, Rob & Jenny from HCS & RBG were doing double duty that night so hats off to them. SHJ’s set was really strong and rockin’. They played older tunes, a new few ones. I particularly liked hearing “Keep Me Up” from their latest album. Obviously it was great to hear “Jolene” and “1959.” Rob Tierney from NY Citizens came out again to play with SHJ. This time he sang “Shut Up and Listen” with Spring Heeled Jack. I guess that’s the closest thing you’ll get to a NY Citizens reunion anytime soon. Not sure why but last few times I’ve seen SHJ, they haven’t played “Pay Some Dues” or “Running Man.” Would have been nice to hear those again. Either way, they put on a great set and sounded excellent! They will be in NJ in August with Sgt. Scag at Stanhope House so check them out if you’re in the area.
After SHJ, Mephiskapheles came out. Andre said he liked the concept of being in a satanic ska band, or something along those lines and then went into the D-O-G-G-O-D! part of “Mephiskapheles” and then went into “Bad John.” (I think – not was hazy at times) Other tunes they played included “Satan Stole My Weed,” “Bad Toupee,” guitarist Andy & the band did a faster version of “Saba” and Meph also played a new track as well! The crowd was really into Meph and was one of the favorites it seemed of the night. Towards the end of the set, Andre talked about Radics and how they were supposed to record together soon, but that never happened. He dedicated “Doomsday” to him. At least I thought it was for that song. I love “Doomsday,” still my favorite Meph song and the song that got me into ska pretty much. At the very end, Andre said something along the lines of “What’s so special about Christ…it’s all politics. GOOD NIGHT!”
The last band of the evening were the Pilfers. It was a long night, it was beyond hot but people stuck around to see 4 of the original members of the band perform for a bit. I still get goosebumps when I hear that Pilfers intro come on, and then them going into “Dr. K.” Coolie told the crowd about the show concept and how it was my birthday wish to have this show, so it was fun to hear from the crowd “happy birthday!” and other things. Maybe it’s that I’m 41, just didn’t feel like my birthday that night. Maybe it was too damn hot? It was very nice of everybody who wished me happy birthday though, thank you!
Pilfers played songs like “Kawaii,” “Yakuza,” “Roller Coaster,” and “Climbing.” Middle of the set, Nick’s gear got messed up so Coolie, Vinny and the rest of the band did a bit of an improvised song to keep the crowd entertained why that was being fixed. Rob from Hub City Stompers to the rescue! There always seems to be something during their set, wouldn’t feel right without something like that haha. Coolie jumped into the crowd again and was trying to get people to sing along with him. Of course Travis of Hub City Stompers was messing with him, which was making me laugh my ass off. It also wouldn’t be a complete Pilfers show with them having to cut their set really short. I think they have like 5-7 songs left on their setlist. The band played 2 abbreviated songs at the end and then Coolie gave the cut sign and that was that.
It was certainly “interesting” being behind the scenes for the show and seeing how much work it takes to get a show like this together. I’m glad the turnout was decent, all the bands played excellent and was really cool to celebrate my brother and I’s birthday at a ska show which was my idea. If there is another Radicsfest next year, my birthday is on a Saturday that year but honestly, I think having the show in April or somewhere like that would be better. A lot of people are on vacation in the summer, it’s too hot and other factors come into play for summer time. Having a show this long on a Saturday would have been better I think. Still, loved every second of Radicsfest on Friday, on my birthday and every band was awesome! Thanks to Coolie and all the bands for including me on the fun.
Here’s some of the photos from the show, a lot more will be posted on SkaPunkPhotos.com this week!