In somewhat less than a two week period, I managed to find time to sneak in seven shows in the Northeast across three states. The band I saw the most times was the Hub City Stompers, who I must admit I had never seen before, despite being a lifelong resident of New Jersey and having gone to more than my fair share of ska shows in New York City. Actually, at the Big Apple Stomp was the first and only time I saw Inspecter 7. By all rights, I should have been a fan earlier, either due to connections or access, but Radical Records never really hit me the way Moon Ska did and their track's position on Oi/Skampiliation Volume 1 did not lend itself to more review by me as it is between Ray Gun Sally by the Slackers and Rudy Don't Fear by the Insteps, which I always forwarded to, given how absolutely mindblowingly good the Insteps were.
So, more armed with knowledge of their music, I planned to see them in Poughkeepsie, since they were opening for Pilfers, who I would definitely drive two hours for without question and then last Friday at Asbury Lanes. The Friday before, I was sitting around my apartment with little to do and said, screw it, let's go to Dingbatz for their first show back. Earlier in the day, I had familiarized myself with their sound with some of their music on Spotify. I actually thought Dirty Jersey was a very good CD and when I arrived purchased the CD from the merchandise table, so I could listen to it in my car and without commercial interruption.
As an aside, I am a big fan of the merchandise table. It allows me, the consumer, an opportunity to provide direct, material support to the bands whose music I enjoy. Generally, I spend less on a CD than I used to spend on lunch when I worked in Jersey City, unless it is the Slackers merchandise table, where I just buy everything I don't own. But it allows me to make that direct impact, which is why I always go over the merchandise table and see if there is something I don't own or want. Over the course of three shows, I purchased Dirty Jersey, Mass Appeal, Baa Baa Black Sheep and a Hub City Stompers T-Shirt, even though I don't actually wear T-Shirts outside of my apartment. But again, that isn't the point. If I want to be able to go to more Hub City Stompers or Slackers or Pilfers or Sammy Kay shows in the future, then I should buy merchandise for them, to make what they do financially viable for them to allow me to have fun. As a random point, I was actually disappointed the Copacetics didn't have a CD in Rhode Island for me to buy, since I couldn't support them directly that night.
As to the Hub City Stompers, they put on three great shows in eight days. Each show was different, which is harder to do when you have a catalog of 30 songs instead of 150 songs like the Slackers. Their sound is somewhat hard for me to describe. There are definitely ska punk elements found in the music, but the not the lyrical sound of the band, which thanks to Rev Sinister takes on more of a toaster feel. To draw an analogy, I have to move toward the Pilfers, but with a more fun, sarcastic take on their sound.
To be polite, their lyrics definitely push boundaries and think if you don't have a good sense of humor, might be inadvertently construed as offensive. But the lyrics are also exceptionally clever, which is very surprising from ska bands, who are notorious for thinking they are far more clever than they actually are. But here, topics are pushed and pulled in ways you don't expect and usually in an enjoyable way. Their horn work is very good as well, which is critical for a ska band. It's not the subtle, intricate work of the Slackers, but it is a full on bombast designed to complement the punk and oi overtones of many of their songs.
And their stage show is great. Rev Sinister and Jenny Whiskey have great stage presence and chemistry together, doing bits together in perfect time. The rest of the band plays strong and has just enough personality to not be completely overshadowed by the front of the stage. Admittedly, they are one of those bands I could see three times in eight days and would definitely want to see again. If I still believed in regret for what I did or did not do with my life in the past, I would regret not getting into the Hub City Stompers sooner, but I can only atone for that by going to more shows while they are in the area.