The Slackers @ Rex Theater, Pittsburgh, PA

Live Reviews | By on Apr 8th, 2013

The Slackers

Date: April 5, 2013
Opening Bands: The Pressure, The Pinstripes

After leaving Pittsburgh out of their touring circuit for quite a few years, the Slackers are back for the third time in four years. This time they brought out the Pinstripes from Cincinnati for the duration of the tour and local Pittsburgh rocksteady/ska/reggae band the Pressure were the opening act.

I’ve seen the Pressure play once before with the Pietasters a few years back and I was excited to see that they were the opening band for this show. I wanted to make sure that I was on time for this particular show and managed to miss all of the Pens pregame traffic making my two hour trip much more enjoyable. The show was an 8PM start and that gave my wife and I time to grab a slice of pizza and mill around a bit. The Pressure didn’t hit the stage until around 8:30 and, as expected, they put on a great show and managed to get the crowd into the show very early on. They have a rocksteady ska sound that is similar to the Slackers and the Stubborn All-Stars, but with rotating male and female vocals. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that the Pressure and far and away the best ska band that the’ burgh has ever seen. No disrespect to Skankin’ Homer.

The Pinstripes are Vic and crews’ touring mates for the duration of their brief tour. I’ve heard them before, but I was thoroughly impressed with their live show. Their sound is firmly based on soulful ska, but they were just as adept at everything from funky reggae to third wave and two tone ska. They managed to switch things up while stirring up the crowd even more. There were maybe about fifty or so people skanking up around the stage by the time their set was done for the night. The one thing that I liked about the Pinstripes the most can be summed up in one word…harmonies. The three members of the brass section which also consisted of the lead singer brought back the lost art of harmonizing in songs. If you closed your eyes during some of their songs, you could easily envision one of the earlier Jamaican ska bands that were influenced by Motown and doo wop sounds.

After the Pinstripes set, it wasn’t that long that the Slackers were all set up and ready to get the joint bouncing. They hit the stage with an instrumental number that didn’t sound like anything in particular and then immediately broke into one of my favorite songs, “Old Dog” and managed to rapidly fire off “Watch This” and “I’ll Stay Away” before finally taking a break to ask the crowd how they were doing. Of course the crowd was having a good time already and the skank pit multiplied by three by this time. After an invigorated performance of “Peculiar” Vic and Glen informed us in the crowd that we were in for a treat. They’ve been working on some new songs for an album that will hopefully be released this fall. Throughout the rest of the night they sprinkled in some new songs, maybe three or four including a slow ska anthem as well as the fastest Slackers song that I’ve ever heard…borderline third wave ska song. Overall, the new tracks were really good and they have me looking forward to the next Slackers album that is oh so far away from being released.

The Slackers also sprinkled in some classic tracks throughout the course of their set list. I recall hearing “Manuel”, “Married Girl”, “Wasted Days”, a request for “Henderson Swamp” that the band was more than happy to oblige and the Slackers version of Bon Jovi’s “Wanted Dead or Alive”. There was also a bit where the band was just ad-libbing and did a medley of a handful of cover songs. I remember hearing “Attitude”, “I Used To Love Her” and “A Message To You Rudy” to name the few that I remember. That was a pretty fun moment and the crowd sang along to most of the parts. The Slackers did the whole encore shtick and before you knew it the lights were on and the night was over.

There is no doubt in my mind that this was one of the best ska shows that I’ve seen in years…probably since the second Ska Is Dead Tour. The Slackers are always amazing live and put on such a fun interactive show, but to have like-minded bands like the Pinstripes and the Pressure sharing the bill made this show all the more memorable. See you next year guys!

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