Disclaimer from the Author: As a native of Richmond, Virginia, I’ve spent most of my touring time in this half of the country, so my references will be largely from this side of the country, especially considering the niche nature of most third-wave ska. A handful of bands of note from west of the Mississippi that I didn’t get to in the article include MU330, Five Iron Frenzy, The Urge, I Voted For Kodos, and Mustard Plug.
|Dicky Barrett is in a ska band, and he's cooler than you.|
By this point, Alice in Chains, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Stone Temple Pilots’ angst-ridden, myopic teenage-insecurity-affirming grunge has been dominating our radios and (fortunately or not) our hearts for almost five years. What is this new style of music? Rock bands with horns…like that band my dad likes, Chicago?
Carson Daly cheerily informs you that this new music is called “ska,” and if you fast-forward barely two years it will be totally extinct on the airwaves. Indeed, outside the heaviest of hitters — No Doubt, Sublime, and the Bosstones — ska bands were all but shelved into basement house shows, and virtually all mainstream references to ska and its culture are relegated to butt-of-joke status. Ska music was dead in the mainstream, and ska kids everywhere were either burning their Reel Big Fish shirts in favor of Korn and Limp Bizkit schwag, or lamenting the unceremonious departure of their beloved genre mashup from the mainstream. I’ll begrudgingly admit that I was one of the select few who both retained a love of ska and acquiesced to the angsty adolescent sounds of the rap-rock juggernaut.