November has been really good for gigs. Some of my favourite bands have played gigs this month such as Rise Against, Pennywise, Against Me and [Spunge]. Now it was the time of The Mad Caddies from California who were playing the Islington Academy and they were being supported by another one of my favourites – Jaya The Cat. It was safe to say I was pretty excited.
The first band on were London’s Electric River. 2014 has definitely been a big year for this London based punk rock and roll band. They released their critically acclaimed album The Faith & Patience and have gigged relentlessly. Sadly I only caught the second half of their set but loved every second of it. For me Electric River play the thinking man’s version of punk rock. The sound is more mature sounding than most over punk bands but the sense of punk rock urgency is still there. The band is clearly a well oiled machine at this stage of their careers and don’t seem to miss a beat throughout the set. Highlights for me were the songs Hold Your Nerve and Keep The Engine Running.
Up next was reggae punks Jaya The Cat. This would be my second time seeing them this year and fifth time in total. This however would be my first time seeing them somewhere over than the Camden Underworld so I was quite interested to see them on a bigger stage. The first thing I noticed when Jaya The Cat took to the stage was that either they had a new keyboard player or he had grown the most impressive beard in the four months since I had seen them last. (It turned out that he was a new member of the band) I don’t know whether the band were trying harder than usual to win over new fans or something just clicked into place tonight but this was the best I had ever seen Jaya The Cat play. Front man Geoff played the entire set with a smile on his face and seemed to be having the time of his life. Playing a forty five minute set mixing songs from First Beer Of A New Day, More Late Night Transmissions and The New International Sound Of Hedonism the band had the crowd moving. With every song more and more people started to dance and it was great to see this supremely underated band gain all of the new love. By the time they got to the final two song Fake Carreras and Here Come The Drums everyone was having a great time. Here Come The Drums is a fantastic song to finish a set with due to its long outro of nah nah nah, nah nah nah nah nah nah nah nah nah. Jaya The Cat were the perfect warm up band for The Mad Caddies.
The Mad Caddies are one of the staple Fat Wreck Chords bands along with Lagwagon, No Use For A Name, The Swingin’ Utters and of course NOFX. Generally they are labelled as a ska punk band but they are so much more than that. The Mad Caddies have elements of ska, punk, reggae, swing, jazz, Latino music, polka and even sea shanties. Clearly are very talented band, this year they released their new album Dirty Rice which was their first in seven years. From the start it was clear that the Caddies would be playing a few songs from that album, surprisingly opening up with Down and Out. Instantly the Islington Academy became a skank pit. The crowd tonight were definitely up for a fun time and I can’t think of a better band to give it to them. This was my third time seeing the Caddies and I had forgotten just how strong lead singer Chuck Robertson’s voice is live. It sounded almost exactly like it does on record. The whole band sounded note perfect to my (admittedly untrained) ears and it was nice to look up to the stage and see the band enjoying themselves so much. 2015 will mark twenty years of Mad Caddies, for any band to keep going for so long and still look like they’re having the time of their lives is great to see. The set was very Dirty Rice and Keep It Going (the album released before Dirty Rice) heavy but they did throw in some classics from Just One More, Duck & Cover and Rock The Plank. Drinkin’ For 11 got a massive reception, the crowd sang so loudly you couldn’t hear Chucks singing, I actually looked up to the stage to see if he was actually singing. Other songs that got great reactions were Road Rash, Leavin, and Monkeys, all of which put huge smiles on everybody’s face. Finishing on an extended version of All American Badass allowed the crowd to have one final sing as well as a good dance, during the song trombone player Eduardo Hernandez (most Mexican name ever?) left the stage and climbed onto one of the bars to play which was a cool image.
This had been a perfect gig, absolutely first rate bands and the crowd was brilliant fun. Too often at ska gigs the crowd just want to mosh and be aggressive and it’s really not what the music is about. It was nice to go and watch some ska and actually be able to skank.
Find out more on Electric River here: https://www.facebook.com/electricriver
Find out more on Jaya The Cat here: https://www.facebook.com/JayaTheCat
Find out more on the Mad Caddies here: https://www.facebook.com/madcaddiesofficial
Now listening to All I Know by Pipes and Pints