Date: April 14, 2018
Opening Acts: Tyler and the Streeters, iNCO FIdO
While most of the month of April in western Pennsylvania has been a frigid rainy mess, this particular Saturday was more like a late scorching summer day. Temperatures were in the low 80s for the drive to the ‘Burgh and my wife was with me as my plus one.
This would be the first time that I’ve been to the newly minted Funhouse at Mr. Smalls…a new, more intimate addition to the Millvale music staple and also the first time in recent memory that the Slackers weren’t playing somewhere in the South Side of Pittsburgh. With the show being sold out, I wondered to myself if the ska scene in Pittsburgh had grown substantially since the last time the Slackers were in town or if this place was smaller than the normal club venues around town. There were slightly more people at the show than usual but the venue provided a more intimate and personal setting for the evening. I wasn’t quite sure if all of the Slackers & equipment would actually fit on the stage.
Opening the evening was a band from Wisconsin called Tyler and the Streeters. They mixed garage rock with punk as well as some acoustic rock and reggae. There were some sing-a-long songs and some danceable songs and the crowd seemed to respond well to their setlist. While they were a solid opening act, I didn’t feel like they played any standout songs that would merit an album purchase.
Next up was a local Pittsburgh blues/rock fusion band called iNCO FIdO. I’ve seen them play at a few ska gigs around town and they have a decent following and manage to work the crowd quite easily. There were quite a few members in iNCO FIdO so that merited well for the Slackers squeezing onstage. They played through their entire set but were ahead of schedule and were asked to add a few more songs to the setlist.
The Slackers came on stage at roughly around 10:30. By now the Funhouse was quite packed and there was a buzz leading up to the band hitting the stage. Vic and company wasted no time getting people dancing due to them opening up with “Peculiar”. This set the tone for a ska-heavy setlist that consisted of a lot of classic Slackers tunes. “International War Criminal”, “Capo”, “What Went Wrong” and “Keep It Simple” rounded off the tracks from “Peculiar” while deeper cuts such as “Do You Know”, “Knowing”, “She Wants To Be Alone” and “Tin Tin Deo” to go with Slackers staples like “Watch This” and “You Must Be Good”. There was even a request for “Henderson Swamp” from someone in the crowd, which the Slackers happily obliged…saying that the place felt like a swamp so the song was fitting.
As usual, the Slackers put on a great show that focused heavily on their ska and reggae numbers. The crowd grew larger as the show went on and the place was dancing and grooving the whole time. I was surprised and very pleased that they went old school with most of their setlist selections and enjoyed hearing a heavy dose of tracks from one of my favorite albums “Peculiar”. As many times as I’ve seen the Slackers, this show in part with the new venue setting, was one of if not the best Slackers shows I’ve witnessed. Hopefully this means more frequent trips to Pittsburgh for the Slackers in the years to come.