Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Duff Gig Review: Oreskaband @ The Gramercy Theater (7/30/15)

Oreskaband are go!
(Review by Steve Shafer)

I knew next to nothing about Oreskaband when I walked into The Gramercy Theater last Thursday night, other than that they were an all-female ska band from Japan (their name in Japanese is all punk rock in it's succinctness: "we're a ska band"). I figured they had to be pretty damn good for someone to front the money to support their mini-tour of the USA (where, sadly ska shows are very much hit-or-miss affairs; indeed, where have all the rude boys/girls gone?)--plus, it's not that often that international ska bands come through New York City these days, so I felt it was important to show up and support the scene and give the local promoters a reason to continue booking touring ska acts...

Due to a family obligation earlier that evening, I missed a few of the opening bands (including the really terrific NYC ska-punk act The Ladrones--my good friend Adam reported that they were excellent, as I expected), but caught The Pandemics' great punk-ska set that had the close-to-capacity crowd primed for the headliners. And--wow--were Oreskaband ready to deliver one of the most enjoyable, high-energy, engaging, charming, and musically-tight sets I've seen in a long time!

They're a modern ska band, as advertised, but musically omnivorous and proficient, like Fishbone, playing pop, rock, punk, funk--even new wave(!), and adept at shifting styles on a dime, oftentimes within a single song (and sing in both English and Japanese). During their hour-plus show, they played several songs off their fantastic, new, five-track Carry On EP (which I bought at their merch table), including the Red Hot Chili Pepper-like "Carnival," "Brand New Day," "Getting Higher," and the anthemic and uplifting "Carry On!" ("You may be right, and may be wrong/We go smiling either way/Carry on, oh everyday!")--as well as some choice and very well-done covers: Toots Hibbert's "Monkey Man" (which they recorded with Rico Rodriguez for the Japa Rico compilation album in 2006) and "Pressure Drop," and Danny Flores' classic "Tequila."

At one point in their set, Oreskaband declared how happy they were to be back in America--and New York City in particular--they hadn't been here since 2008. A Google search later on revealed that Oreskaband had played the entire Vans Warped Tour in the USA that year and they must have won over legions of fans wherever they performed. (Here's hoping they come back to NYC soon!)

Oreskaband are phenomenal!  If you ever have the chance to see Oreskaband live, you must go! Life's too short not to have this much fun!

+ + + +

The last time I attempted to tape some bands at the Gramercy, they temporarily confiscated my Flip video camera, so I don't have any live footage of Oreskaband to share. Instead, here's the music video for one of Oreskaband's new, straight-on ska tracks to give you a taste of the band...


Jon said...

No post on Oreskaband is complete without a mention of their movie "Lock & Roll Forever" from 2009. It's mostly in English


Andrew said...


I have some clips on my Facebook page I could send to you if you like.

see - https://www.facebook.com/andrew.rundle several posts down the feed.

The show was awesome.


Unknown said...

The first thing that stood out to me about the band was their energy. Their horns in particular (Saki - trumpet & Hayami - trombone) were always in motion! Climbing barricades, wandering into the crowd, participating in some well placed choreography, all while not missing a beat! The rest of the band was on their game as well, their vocals in particular were on point as well, with many tunes using 3-4 part harmony, while belting out tune after tune with laser like precision.

In addition to the covers listed above, Checkerboard Phil also clued me into another cover the band did of a certain anime theme song (whose name escapes me right now). It's worth noting that one of Oreskaband's big draws is from the world of anime fandom. At least 2 of their songs have been used as theme song for popular anime shows in both the USA & Japan (Naruto: Shonen Jump and Bleach). Knowing this, it makes sense that their first stop on this tour would be at Otakon, the largest anime convention in the USA.

You also mentioned that they played a couple of covers during their set, but I'm surprised you left out the biggest surprise cover they did in their encore. They brought down the house with a reggaeish version of The Longest Time by Billy Joel. It takes some serious guts to pull out a Billy Joel song in NYC.... he's MR. NEW YORK! To do something like that is extremely risky, and they pulled it off without a hitch, giving the entire crowd something they could sing along to.

All in all, a great show!

Steve from Moon said...

Thanks for you comments, everyone!

Andrew, please send me the videos and I'll post: duffguidetoska@gmail.com.

Chris, I really appreciate your comments! I had to leave during the encore, so missed the Billy Joel cover!

Unknown said...

No problem steve. Let me know if Andrew sends you video of that billy joel cover! it was awesome!

Unknown said...

Oh, and the other opener was Go Big! (folk rock/punk featuring ex members of the Highschool Football Heroes)