Friday, June 11, 2010

Duff Gig Review: The Caroloregians, The Moon Invaders, and The Rudie Crew at The Knitting Factory Brooklyn (6/5/10)

Since my job has been bringing me nothing but misery lately, it was nice to disappear from the mainstream world into the ska underground for a few hours last Saturday night to catch some really magnificent performances by The Caroloregians, The Moon Invaders, and The Rudie Crew. (I had wanted to see the other two acts on the bill, Royal City Riot and Hub City Stompers, but a friend was celebrating the opening of her husband's new bar in Midtown, which kept me from seeing RCR, and I had to catch the L train back to Manhattan before it got too late, which caused me to miss HCS--sorry guys). Thanks to Marc Wasserman of Bigger Thomas/Marco on the Bass and Mike D. (who shot the the recent Spring Heeled Jack reunion) for hanging with me.

While I had no preconceptions as to what kind of show to expect, I figured it was at least worth the trek to Brooklyn to see two ska bands from Belgium (how often does that happen?). Even though the crowd was kind of light--they hit the stage pretty early for NYC--The Caroloregians, led by Oliver Reed look-alike Matthew Hardison, played their hook-filled brand of funky skinhead reggae with enough power and verve to make a stadium of fans groove and skank. Their set was comprised of a mix of terrific instrumental originals (a la Dave and Ansel Collins, Harry J Allstars, and The Upsetters, amongst others) and killer 60s R&B covers, including Sam Cooke's "Another Saturday Night" and The Rolling Stone's "(Can't Get No) Satisfaction" (the video below segues into their own "Karlking City Boogaloo")--rhythmically it was unexpectedly, but pleasingly, close to Devo's version!

Next up were The Moon Invaders, and I'd be lying if I didn't admit that I was surprised to see about half of The Caroloregians back on stage (but then it made sense--how else could you afford to have two European ska bands touring here in the USA?). By this point in the evening, the dance floor was much better populated and many of us had now been primed for The Moon Invaders' superbly upbeat rhythm 'n' blues-powered ska. I managed to shoot several videos of The Moon Invaders' performance to post here, but a good part of me just wanted to dance to their exuberantly catchy tunes.

Marc and I spoke with Moon Invaders/Caroloregians singer Matthew Harrison afterwards and found out that he and his fellow vocalist/brother Thomas (Chris Murray's doppelganger) are both originally from New Orleans (which explained the many references to the Crescent City and Cajun/Creole culture in The Moon Invaders' songs--which otherwise would be kind of, well, weird for a Belgian act). We also talked about how they were going to cross the US/Canadian border (two Americans, a boatload of Belgians, and all their gear) for their gigs in Montreal and Toronto without arousing any suspicions. Since they were traveling in a car and van, I suggested the American brothers go in the car without any gear or merch (we're just two simple tourists, officer!), and all Belgians would cross in the van--and they could speak French to seem familiar and allay the customs agents' concerns. Hope they made it! (Check out their remaining tour dates here--and if they are playing near you, move freakin' heaven and earth to see them!)

While I've seen Roy Radics guest performing with Bigger Thomas, I haven't had the chance to see The Rudie Crew in action. Apparently, they've been MIA lately, since they had to find and break in both a new drummer (a big, body-builder type guy who hits the skins like Stewart Copeland) and guitarist. Their excellent set was full of aggressive post-2 Tone ska/dancehall minor-key cuts with unusual (for ska), ever-shifting rhythmic patterns--all with Roy's rapid-fire chatting riding atop the soundwave. What particularly struck me was that their sound was in a a recognizably NYC ska vein, but they've created something fresh and their own. After witnessing (and dancing to) their show, I now know better: I should have been missing them while they were temporarily out of commission, too. And I can't wait to see them again.

Cheers to Version City for putting together this sensational bill--and thanks to Adam at KF Hollywood for the hospitality!


Kames Jelly said...

I felt like I was 16/17 years old again watching The Rudie Crew. There was absolutely no difference in quality between how great they were 5 years ago and how great they were last week. I'm really glad they're back.

As for the two bands you missed.

Royal City Riot were unlucky enough to play to a crowd of 5-10 people. It's always a bummer and I have no idea why no one ever shows up to VC Parties on time. They played a great set though, so good it got me re-interested in them after having gotten slightly bored with them lately.

Hub City played a typical Hub City set. They're always great, They're always funny. This time they played a bunch of great new songs.

Kames Jelly said...

Also, fun piece of trivia:

Rolf, the Moon Invaders' trumpet player, was in Demonstration-era Skinnerbox.

Steve from Moon said...


Thanks for filling in the blanks for me! And what a cool bit of ska trivia.



Glen said...

I'm glad you liked the Caroloregians Steve - we were lucky enough to see them while we were living in London and thought them outstanding. Wish they'd brought the couple of others to make up the Moon Invaders.