’90s nostalgia is at an all-time high, so we’re keeping our fingers crossed for a full-on ska revival sooner than later. Until then, we’ll settle for a co-headling tour from two of the most important acts that helped revitalize and fuse the genre with punk rock two decades ago (and haven’t slowed down since), Less Than Jake and Reel Big Fish. The fact that the ska punk legends are playing Marathon Music Works tonight, June 3, along with Ballyhoo! is telling, and we hope that that room size means they’re attracting broader interest beyond their cult following once more. And they should, because both acts are every bit as good as you remember! Dust off your plaid pants, slip on your checkered Vans, and grab tickets right here! Read on to find out more.
LESS THAN JAKE
Inarguably one of the most important acts of the third wave ska movement, helping fuse traditionalist ska sounds with the pop punk resurgence of the ’90s, Gainesville, Florida’s Less Than Jake, along with their contemporaries Reel Big Fish, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, No Doubt, Sublime, and more, catapulted to mainstream consciousness two decades ago and haven’t slowed down since. Responsible for classic albums like Hello Rockview, Losing Streak, and Anthem, LTJ have spent time as both a major label success story and a wildly self-sufficient indie band, and, while the popularity of ska as a whole has dramatically waned (we’re still hoping the recent ’90s nostalgia trend will give way to a fourth wave), they’ve kept a loyal and dedicated following, continuing to release albums and tour relentlessly. A fun, frenetic live act, Less Than Jake are a solid reminder of just why ska exploded (for the the third time) in the first place, and, while we wish they had more company carrying the torch, they are, and have long been, one of the most deserving acts to represent the scene.
REEL BIG FISH
Like Less Than Jake, Reel Big Fish helped usher in the third wave, ska punk movement, beginning in the early ’90s, inking a major label deal shortly after, and hitting their apex towards the end of the decade, finding both mainstream radio attention and inclusion in high profile film and television placements, as well as a large, organic fanbase. Hailing from the LA-adjacent Huntington Beach, CA, the band have seen members come and go over the years, but have remained anchored by talented frontman Aaron Barrett. Known for the smash success of singles like “Sell Out” and “Beer” (both from their classic ’96 LP Turn the Radio Off), Reel Big Fish, like Less Than Jake, have maintained their popularity by continuing to tour nonstop, and, now independent, have been consistently making new music throughout. If you were a teenager in the ’90s, it’s virtually impossible not to feel nostalgia for both of these bands, and, trust us, they’re still at the top of their game. Whether ska is still “cool” (or whether it ever was), one thing’s for sure: it’s still a hell of a lot of fun, and we’re lucky to have two of its best acts continuing to make music in 2015.
Proper punk-tinged third wave ska bands are in short supply these days, so finding an opener that fits the bill so well is pretty impressive in of itself! Hailing from Maryland, Ballyhoo! are actually more of a reggae band with pop punk tendencies, lacking horns though still channeling the energy of the acts for which they’re opening. For the last 15 years, the group have been organically amassing a cult following, and have performed on Warped Tour, Bamboozle, 311’s Pow Wow and Caribbean Cruise, and more.
Less Than Jake, Reel Big Fish, and Ballyhoo! will perform tonight, June 3 at Marathon Music Works. The show is 18+, begins at 8 p.m. (doors at 7 p.m.), and tickets are available for $25.