By Joseph Golfen
Some say that punk is dead, but Streetlight Manifesto’s frenzied show at the Venue of Scottsdale proved that at the very least, Ska is still alive and kicking widely. Friday night’s show packed the house with manic kids flailing their limbs to horn-fueled mayhem.
See more shots from the show in our Streetlight Manifesto slideshow.
Hailing from East Brunswick Township, New Jersey, Streetlight Manifesto has established a widespread following since their debut Everything Goes Numb landed in 2003. Much of their success is due to their impossibly catchy tunes, provided by Tomas Kalnoky who formerly fronted the widely acclaimed Ska-group Catch 22.
The night kicked of with some promising openers, including the reggae/rap/punk group The Fear Nuttin Band and punk bands The A.K.A.s and The Swellers. These bands all had the crowd moving, but the anticipation for Streetlight was so high that the crowd let out a roar when a banner bearing the band’s name was hoisted behind the stage.
The band arrived on stage and the horn section let out a brassy fanfare before a crunching guitar riff set the crowd ablaze. The crowd cheered and danced as the band rocketed out a frantic set of their punky/ska tunes, including "We Will Fall Together," "A Moment of Silence" and Catch 22’s signature tune "Keasbey Nights."
Many of the songs became full fledged sing-a-alongs, with Kalnoky leaving the mic and letting the crowd take over on lead vocals. The songs worked well in this mob format, and the members of the audience that weren’t shouting along were busy doing skanking. The flying limbs made it feel a little unsafe to be in the crowd, but the behavior was encouraged by Kalnoky whenever we spoke to the crowd.
“I don’t know if you could tell, but most of us up here are sick right now,” Kalnoky said in his nasally shout. “ So if you’re not rocking out down there, we’re going to come down and knock you upside the head.”
Illness didn’t take a toll on the band, who sounded tight and fun as they blared out their set. Every member of the band joined in on vocal duty any time they set down their horns, and Kalnoky flew around the stage with apparent glee.
The band seemed to have more energy then the crowd, because after about 45 minutes, herds of sweaty juvenile boys poured into the swanky bar next to the stage to collect the free cups of water and catch their breath. Perhaps sensing this, Kalnoky broke out his acoustic guitar. While the tunes keep up the driving tempo, the crowd mostly slowed down the dancing and sang along with the set, which included some songs from Kalnoky’s other band Bandits of the Acoustic Revolution.
While the crowd may have been taking a breather during the acoustic set, the enthusiasm remained high, and as soon as Kalnoky brought his red hollow-body electric out again, the dancing and kicking returned. The band fed off the renewed energy and rest of the show was a blur of flying feet and smiles.
“I’m having a so-so tour this time around, what with being sick and all,” Kalnoky confessed before the band played their final songs. “Denver had been my favorite show thus far, but Phoenix or Scottsdale or whoever the fuck you are, this has been great. Thanks for making us feel better.”