Dropped by Kyle Kolomick
Photos by James Dechert
It’s a chilly Thursday night on Mills Avenue as I arrive at The Peacock Room. I’m early, so I take my place at the bar, order a beer, and begin a rousing game of Plants vs. Zombies. About a quarter of the way into my beer I hear Krist Cooper call out to me: “We’re moving the show across the street.” I ask why and she tells me there was an age issue with the venue. I’m all about younger folks joining in on the fun so I finish my Sam Adams, pay my single beer tab, put my jacket back on and head across the street to Orlando Nights.
At the new venue I’m greeted at the door by a lovely, funky sweat smell punching me in the nostrils. It’s a strange, pungent mix of body odor and fresh paint smell that I feel could be a detriment to my entire night. I was in luck however, because about five minutes later my nose adjusts and I’ve all but forgotten the funk that had greeted me. I head to the bar in the dimly lit venue and to my delight, PBR tallboys are $2 a piece. I sit down, order a beer, play a couple of touchscreen bar games featuring a polar bear riding a snowboard and before I know it, the show is about to start.
69 Fingers frontman Steve Osborne screaming into the mic.
I got to listen to some 69 Fingers before the show. I remember there being a full horn section when hearing them online. I’m disappointed when only the drummer, bassist and guitarist/frontman set up to play for the night’s opener. I’m a ska fan, I like horns, how is the band going to keep my interest with only half the group performing? As the three men begin to play my fears are washed away. What comes out is an extremely interesting mix of the ska/punk that I know and love and an alt rock sound that meshes with it perfectly. Though I’m unable to clearly make out the vocals, I can’t help but rock along to the aggressive music being delivered. Despite the lack of monitors, and poor acoustics in the venue, the band’s transitions are flawless as they continue to delight the crowd with their unique style. As they’re set ends, I feel a rush of anticipation for the night’s following acts. I head to the bar and order another beer to get me through intermission.
Jaminson Hogan of The Hoverounds on vocals
The night’s opener had done it’s job well, and it’s The Hoverounds’s turn to play. Without warning or introduction the five-man ska/punk group starts their set, catching me off guard. When I hear the energetic, upbeat, gritty sound blast forth I chug the rest of my beer as quickly as possible so I can join the crowd, already skanking and having fun without me. Almost the entire venue is on their feet, moving and rocking along to the aggressive, yet upbeat sound the band delivers. Still having trouble making out the vocals, I ask if they can be turned up. The band responds saying they can’t, they’re as loud as they go. Despite this, the band continues to put on a solid show. They have a lot of energy, and it infects the few crowd members who had previously stood still. Even some members from Askultura can’t help but join in on the fun. Though the music is aggressive, the atmosphere created is one of joy and unity. A testament not only to the band, but to the crowd as well.
Askultura hail from Miami, Fla. and use a wide range of instruments for their version of ska
After another brief intermission, the night’s headliner, Askultura, begins their set. I grabbed their album about a month ago after seeing them at Orlando’s The Social and have been waiting to see them live again ever since. Having a variety of instruments ranging from guitar and bass, to washboard and accordion, the band has a unique ska style that I’ve come to love in my short time spent with their album. Opening up with immediate energy the crowd erupts into dance. Anyone who might have been previously standing still certainly wasn’t any longer. The feeling of unity and elation from the crowd has only been amplified at this point and many sing along to every word. Each of the band’s eight members are playing the crowd, utilizing the intimate venue to create a sense of camaraderie not only within the crowd itself, but also between them and the band. It’s a wonderful feeling that is rarely created. The feeling that most fans will agree, is what makes the ska scene so wonderful.
Perhaps it’s because I already knew the words, or perhaps because the audience is helping out, but for the first time during the night, the vocals are coming in clear for me. The gritty sound coming from the band’s male frontman, Andrew Chisena, is complemented perfectly by his clean, powerful female counterpart, Jennifer Pierre. Each of the remaining six members, from the washboard to the trumpet, blend together flawlessly, creating a jumpy, upbeat Latin-ska sound that you can’t help but dance along with. They play every song I can think from the album and each one is a delight to hear. From “Gutter Queen” to “Winter Skirt Knee,” the band plays each song to near perfection. It’s a wonderful performance that leaves me entirely satisfied with the way I spent my chilly Thursday night.
Check out more photos from the night below:
Sun Jan 27