MUSIC Keeping Ska alive on the Ska is dead tour

Some say ska is dead, but you wouldn’t know it if you were at the Factory in Ft. Lauderdale on Friday night. The Ska is Dead and You’re Next Tour, lead by Catch 22, made a stop and quite a few South Florida locals got their checkered caps out of the closet.

Supporting Catch 22 on the tour are Mustard Plug, Big D and the Kids Table, and the Planet Smashers. The show was sold out and tons of faithful fans waited outside in the cold (cold by Florida-standards at least) to be let in 1 at a time as people left.

Opening the show nicely was The Planet Smashers, a traditional ska/punk band from Montreal who, while not very unique, are still talented and got the crowd involved rather well for an opening band. Fans in the pit were anxious to skank, and skank they did. They danced so much, in fact, that it probably tired them out for the bigger name bands to follow. The highlight of the set had to be their cover of House of Pain’s “Jump Around.”

And while they’re still commonly classified as ska/punk, Big D would win the “which one of these things is not like the others?” game. Playing second in the line-up vocalist Dave McWane’s voice sounds like a mix between Lars Frederiksen and Zack De La Rocha: quick hitting and scratchy. The least polished band of the line up, Big D was energetic and the crowd was definitely into them.

Signifying the beginning of the end of the crowd’s enthusiasm, Mustard Plug ceremoniously took the stage while “Ride of the Valkeries” played. Fans of the band enjoyed their set, but it seemed like those who didn’t know them very well were getting tired and frankly a little bored. Four bands of the same genre and something like 15 horns are a lot to handle in one night.

Finally the headliners and one of the best ska bands in the country, Catch 22, took the stage. In contrast with Mustard Plug, they quietly set up their own equipment and started playing without introduction. After opening first with an instrumental song and then “What goes around comes around,” they played “Rocky,” the first song off their latest release Dinosaur Sounds. The band conversed with the crowd throughout their set, and it was quite clear that the fans wanted to hear their old favorites rather than songs off the new album. Catch 22 mixed in favorites like “On and on and on” with four or five tracks off of Dinosaur Sounds. The crowd pleaded for the song “Keasbey nights,” and many left after they played it. Those who left didn’t miss an encore (The Factory’s management might be anti-encore) but they did miss the fan favorite “1234, 1234,” on which Catch 22 ended the show.

Catch 22 is definitely an impressive group of musicians and are one of a select group of bands that are keeping ska alive.

Matt Dingerdissen can be contacted at