Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Duff Gig Review: The Toasters' Rocks Off Booze Cruise (6/12/11)!

Even though the weather was kind of cool for NYC in June (as well as overcast), it was still fantastic to be out on the waters around Manhattan--and be reminded that I actually live on an island--to take in a great night of ska with The Toasters on the Rocks Off booze cruise.

About 200 people boarded The Jewel (hey, it was a Sunday night--plus there had been three other ska/reggae shows in NYC that weekend) at 23rd Street and the FDR Drive for the three-hour SS Minnow tour that took us under several of the big East River bridges (Williamsburg, Manhattan, and Brooklyn for you tourists), then around the southern tip of Manhattan (the Freedom Tower is really starting to rise quickly--which is good, since lower Manhattan needs some sort of landmark building; there's been a gaping wound in the skyline for far too long). We also cruised up pretty close to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island (one of my good friends on the cruise had four immigrant ancestors pass through there on their way to America--and here we were, a boatload of their great-great grandsons and daughters, sailing the same waters purely for fun; some powerful stuff to ponder over a beer or two).

While we didn't actually see Royal City Riot perform, we heard them pumped through the speakers on the top deck and they sounded pretty damn good. RCR opened their set with a decent cover of "Gangsters," which somehow seemed pretty ballsy. Gotta focus more on them next time.

The Toasters put on their usual terrific set, though their sound was significantly augmented by the extraordinary Dave Barry on keys (who was on the road with them for this mini-tour) and Sledge (who was sitting in with them for the night--Buck cajoled him to come in from the wilds of New Jersey for the gig). No disrespect to the current members of the band, but I gotta say that Dave and Sledge really help flesh out The Toasters' signature sound.

Cuts performed this night included "Dog Eat Dog," "2 Tone Army," "Life in a Bubble," "History Book," "Dub 56," "East Side Beat," "Thrill Me Up," "House of Soul," "Social Security," and "Don't Let the Bastards Down." For me, one of the absolute highlights of the night was the ten minute rendition of the still relevant "Ploughshares into Guns" (written in response to the first Gulf War, amongst other things), which also featured the most excellent Roy Radics of The Rudie Crew toasting. I shot Flip videos of many of these songs, which are posted below (a few more can be found at The Duff Guide to Ska YouTube channel). Make sure to note the scenery passing by through the windows...

Earlier in the evening, I spoke to Buck regarding when the "House of Soul" vinyl single is going to be released. Buck told me that it had been recorded a while back, but since that time the song has evolved a bit on the road and he's thinking about re-recording it when he's back in Spain. So, the release will be pushed back until later in the summer...but it is coming. I also tried to extract a bit more info from him about the planned Toasters 30th Anniversary show in NYC in October, which will feature many former and beloved members of the band. While Buck named several ex-Toasters from various incarnations of the band who might be there, nothing is locked in yet, but there are sure to be some big surprises.

Before I stumbled off happy into the night, Buck and Jeremy Patton of Megalith outfitted me with one of the rare (at least in these here parts) bottles of Toasters 30th Anniversary Shebeen IPA Black crafted by Ska Brewing and an accompanying pint glass complete with the 30th Anniversary logo (all of which I managed to get home without accidentally smashing them on the sidewalk). Buck suggested doing a review of the Toasters IPA on this blog, which I'm planning to do as a videotaped review in the near future. (And it turns out that The Toasters' IPA is so popular that Ska Brewing is going to make it one of their permanent offerings in the near future.)

The next ska booze cruise will feature The Pietasters on July 29, 2011.


Marco On The Bass said...

Love the 'you are there' vantage point of the videos!

Paul said...

ugh, looked awesome I am now kicking myself for not making the drive to wooster this past tuesday to see Buck & Crew...

That 30th anniversary show in October cannot come soon enough!

Steve from Moon said...

Thanks, Marc. I think I'm going to try to take more gig videos right up front instead of trying to capture the whole band at once.

Steve from Moon said...

Thanks, Paul. The October show should be really something!