While my significantly cooler Bucketlist friends were partying it up in Montreal this weekend at the country’s biggest metal festival, I made do with what Toronto could offer me instead. So, sure enough, like any other committed festival goer, I found myself at a Vietnamese restaurant/karaoke bar called Mây for day two of Toronto Ska Fest 2016. Wait, what? I mean, it wasn’t Heavy Montreal, but I still had fun. That’s all that counts, right?
The venue may (no pun intended) not have been as impressive as Day one’s show, but they helped the promoters get themselves out of a pinch, and the room was very welcoming to the bands playing, so to that, I owe my appreciation. Up first was The Classy Wrecks, a group of guys that I’m pretty sure some of which played on day one, including frontman Dan Mager, who plays bass for Adam’s Mind, yesterday’s show closer. They played many laid back, rocksteady-inspired tunes, including a couple of covers. Their take on Sublime’s “Badfish” (lots of Sublime this weekend) was pretty straightforward, and true to the original song, save for the bassist’s odd slip where he didn’t seem to know where he was in the song. It was a safe opener to the night, if forgettable.
The first and only non-Ontario band made their appearance at the festival. Late Night Munchies served as the evening’s second act, and the Quebec band certainly brought something that the festival needed: a good, hard-hitting ska punk act. These guys drove nine hours to play their set, and I’m glad they did. The Less Than Jake-inspired punk sound mixed with the aggression and speed of Voodoo Glow Skulls made for an entertaining act. The trombone player was a thrill to watch, never staying still in his corner of the stage (well, floor), even moshing with the crowd when their songs called for a lengthy horn break. With three of Late Night Munchies’ six members playing their second show with the band, it’s understandable that they wouldn’t be the most solid band of the festival. Even considering this, I was still left mildly disappointed with the drummer’s performance. He was fast, and did a decent job, but his playing was stiff, and he got lost in the music sometimes, often having to find his place mid-song. Despite those few slips, their set was great. Their singer was entertaining as well; it’s just unfortunate his lyrics were barely audible over the instruments. He sang, screamed, and rapped in both English and French, and the guitarist’s backups and aggressive play style complimented the overall band very nicely. Solid act overall.
Seeing as it was already 11:00 pm when the second band’s set ended, and I had to be up early the next morning, I figure I’d stay for one more band. Small Town Get Up is a group that we’ve talked about twice before on Bucketlist, yet they their live show amazes me. It was bitter-sweet, considering it was their second-last Toronto show before they go on hiatus. I’m certainly going to miss one of my favourite bands that I’ve discovered while working for this webzine, but that sadness didn’t stop me from enjoying their set. The energetic band played a handful of their more aggressive, Streetlight Manifesto-tinged songs, with just enough of their more indie-sounding tracks to keep a right balance. The Grimsby, Ontario band, also played some ska-punk favourites, including Goldfinger’s “Superman,” and “Keasby Nights” by Catch 22. The crowd certainly enjoyed that, seeing as there was more moshing and skanking in those ten minutes than I’m sure the venue has ever seen. It was a great send off for anyone who might not be able to catch Small Town Get Up’s final show on September 22nd, but as for myself, I’ll be jamming out to songs like “Day I Die” until, well, hopefully until the day I die.
Let’s hope day three sends the festival out with a bang.
Written by Mathieu Perrier
Photography by Danielle Kenedy
*edited by Danielle Kenedy