After a great first night of Level Up Festival 2018 it was now time to start the second day and first full day of ska punk shenanigans. The Friday night served as a great starter to wet our pallets for the weekend, it was now time for the main course. (Although, before reading on please check out day one of the festival here.) Emma had finished seeing her favourite band ever play her favourite album ever so she was back with me ready and excited to catch up on the fun she'd missed out on the night before. (Emma's sections are written in italics.)
After ditching the DIY punk scene on Friday night, I was well and truly ready to spend my Saturday and Sunday skanking away to some of the best ska punk bands around – the first of which was Codename Colin. Regulars at the New Cross Inn, Codename Colin are a band that we’d seen just a few months earlier supporting Popes Of Chillitown. They really impressed us with their fun and not-too-serious performance and I was eager to see them again – this time with the horn player that they were missing previously. Despite being the first band of the day, there was a fair crowd already gathered at the New Cross Inn and before too long the room was dancing to, err, a short rendition of The Final Countdown. Codename Colin are perhaps known for their pop covers but they have some great songs in their own right. We were actually treated to a couple of new tracks that will presumably be released at some point in the future. Obviously they had to throw in another cover though and the band chose the Britney Spears classic Hit Me Baby One More Time.
Codename Colin started the day well and had my feet warmed up nicely for the next band, Koala Commission. As this year’s only band from Belgium on the bill, Koala Commission were a band that we were particularly looking forward to checking out – especially for me as I knew they had a little bit of a folky flair to their ska punk. It wasn’t until the 7-piece took to the stage that I realised I recognised their singer and guitarist as being in Chrandesyx who were one of my favourite acts from last year’s Level Up (also folky – it’s like I don’t even like ska, isn’t it?). The band also mentioned that they had Jungleproof’s saxophone player helpfully standing in for them for this show – all the Level Up alumni! Playing an assortment of ska and reggae songs, Koala Commission had the Level Up crowd in the palm of their hands as they hooked the audience in. For most people, like us, I’m sure this was their first time seeing the band and I have no doubts that they gained many a new fan thanks to their energetic performance – even if they did rub in the fact that England lost to Belgium twice in the World Cup. The highlight of the set had to be what they described as a ‘waltz’ at the end (looking on Bandcamp, I believe it is called Circo Macello) as it was unlike anything else we heard all weekend – seriously, it was so good!
A gentleman by the name of Tommy was first behind the microphone. I later found out that Tommy usually plays in the indie/reggae band Stop Press. Not knowing a single thing about Tommy I went into the set with an open mind and came out with a massive smile upon my face. Tommy played a set of acoustic reggae pop songs and had the crowd entertained wonderfully with a brilliant combination of great music and loveable charm. The undoubted highlight for me was the megamix of covers he performed. This megamix featured songs from The Specials, Blink-182, Smashmouth, Sublime, Bob Marley, Jessie J and probably some more that I can't remember. There were a lot and it was very enjoyable.
This gig review was written by Colin Clark and Emma Prew.