The night is filled with life and activity. Clubbers, bar hoppers, and music junkies roam the streets of downtown Denver. Some enjoy watching the night unravel, while others like to create the night on stage. It’s not easy making a successful musical group, and it’s even tougher when it consists of seven members who live in six different cities. Keeping a group like that intact takes huge amounts of commitment, individual practice, and passion, all of which the members of Ska Skank Redemption possess.
Punk and ska music fans gather to embrace their love for music and fun. The Ska Skank Redemption is more than fit to be playing at the Marquee Theater in downtown Denver. This popular joint features some of the best local music in the state, and the featured bands don’t find themselves on stage without an adequate amount of practice. So how does the Ska Skank Redemption pull off such a tight sound and become the opening act at the Marquee Theater when all the members are dispersed throughout Northern Colorado?
“We practice once a week, every week, for three hours,” Kyle Etges, Bari Saxophonist, said on behalf of the band. It has become a ritual for all seven members to gather for practice in Louisville on Sunday evenings.
Royal Langer, drummer for the Ska Skank band, said that the band has played at this venue before; however, this time is different because they get the chance to open up for one of ska music’s most influential bands, The Toasters, who are on their 30th-anniversary tour.
“We’re really excited to be able to play with the Toasters. I can’t believe we’re going to be playing with a band that’s been around for 30 years now. That’s such a long time,” Langer said.
Before getting ready to play, the group members set up their merchandise box at the front of the theater and begin chatting with their fans. To shake off the nervous jitters, the band shares stories with their fans about last night’s drunken escapades, along with mentions of S.L.C. punk and good “Star Trek” episodes they’ve watched lately.
Now it’s time. The lights are cued down, Ska Skank Redemption approaches the stage, and a wave of preemptive cheers and applause erupts from the audience. The up-beat, fast tempo, and brassy sounds overwhelm the audience and encourage them to quickly run around in a massive circle while dancing. This imitation of a human whirlpool is referred to as a “skank circle” and is a common move performed at ska shows by large amounts of people in the audience.
The crowd members smile and gather around to kick and jump to the music. At one point the skank circle revolves so fast that one individual falls and is in danger of being trampled. Instead, another audience member picks him up kindly and tells him to keep going in the skank circle. The communal involvement truly reflects the genuine nature of the crowd. It is a punk crowd without any real nasty punks, just good, wholesome music lovers.
The audience is also pleased with the message that Ska Skank Redemption articulates with their lyrics. The band and its fans share similar views concerning concepts of anti-war, anti-establishment and anti-mega corporations. It is no wonder the lyrics, “War. What is it good for? Everything American,” and, “Starbucks is the worst coffee shop in the world,” are such crowd pleasers.
At the end of the set, the musicians wipe the sweat from their brows as the crowd shows its appreciation with fist pumps in the air and loud hollers. As the band members pack up their gear, they reflect on why they do what they do.
“It’s hard because we don’t get to see each other much, but we pay attention to the band every single day,” Langer said. “It’s rough but we want to play together. We love playing together, so we make it work.”
Members of Ska Skank Redemption
Sara LeFevre, guitar, Fort Lupton
Corey Golon, bass, Denver
Royal Lange, drums, Greeley
Mark Kinz, trombone, Fort Collins
Kyle Etges, baritone sax, Greeley
Adam Ross, tenor sax, Golden
Hannah Lewis, trumpet , Louisville
Source: Royal Langer