Date: March 1, 2019
Opening Acts: The Whatleys, The Snipped
All Photos Courtesy of Melissa Haslam
Bringing their brand of New York two-tone ska to Western Pennsylvania, the Toasters brought along a couple of local punk rock acts in the Whatleys and the Snipped to help tear down the house and get those rudies moving.
McGarvey’s Bar and Grill (formerly known as Aldo’s Place) was known to bring in some big name acts like Reverend Horton Heat in its past iteration, but there was never really a steady stream of big-name indie ska and punk acts. Now there is a push to establish the venue as a pit stop between Pittsburgh and State College. I would never have expected bands like the Toasters and the Mephiskapheles to put on shows so close to home but the times are a changin’ and there was a Toasters show as well as an upcoming Mephiskapheles show to fill void of ska music in the area.
First up on the bill were the Whatleys, an energetic punk band from State College, PA with a definite 90s Fat Wreck Chords influence about them. They had a good mix of pop punk and Fat punk almost to the point that some songs could have been mistaken for Face To Face covers. I enjoyed their set and the energy that they brought to the stage. The Whatleys were a great choice to kick things off.
Next up were local Altoona boys the Snipped who label themselves as Dadcore or old guys playing punk rock. They were more influenced by hardcore punk rock than anything else and had a good outing as they ripped through a handful of songs like a buzz saw through flesh. As the late-comers arrived, the Snipped got the ever-growing crowd moving and moshing.
With the Toasters set to hit the stage next, I was surprised with the growing numbers in attendance. There have been plenty of occasions at Pittsburgh ska shows where the numbers were in the low dozens. On this night there was easily more than a hundred people give or take. People came from all over the area on a cold winter night to warm up to one of the best ska bands to ever grace the stage. After some sound issues during setup, the Toasters hit the stage to burn the place down.
Right off the bat Bucket and crew jumped into some of my favorite and most underrated tracks from the Toasters catalog with “Dog Eat Dog” and “Pirate Radio” off of “Enemy of the System”. This got the crowd moving early on as they then ripped through some of their bigger hits like “Social Security”, “2-Tone Army” and “New York Fever”. The audience was putting on quite a performance on the dance floor and the Toaster reciprocated with more energy and excitement with each and every song.
The Toasters went back to “Enemy of the System” much to my enjoyment for the title track as well as “Sitting on Top of the World” before bringing out the big guns to end the show. “Weekend In L.A.” was followed by “Dub 56” and then the granddaddy of them all…”Don’t Let the Bastards Grind You Down” of course! It was as if everyone in the county was signing along and dancing to that song. It was quite impressive.
With that the show was over and, for once, I didn’t have a two hour drive ahead of me…instead it was only about a half hour to home. I enjoyed the mix of punk openers with the Toasters as local ska bands are as rare as pothole-less road around here. There was a great turnout for the show and people were singing and dancing which made for a fun atmosphere. I’m hoping that this bodes well for more ska and punk shows at McGarvey’s which will be just fine by me.