Music

In defence of ska: why it’s still a relevant genre in 2015

In the month of March 2015, Less Than Jake are headlining London’s KOKO during a sold out co-headline tour with Yellowcard.

Still, there’s a good chance this tour could have passed many rock and punk fans by.

While it feels like alternative music has never been more mainstream – with bands like Bring Me The Horizon selling out Wembley and You Me At Six headlining The O2 – there’s still corners of the music community that overlook ska as an out-of-date genre.

You’d probably be surprised to discover that some of today’s most relevant rockers (I’m looking at you, A Day To Remember) still hold ska very dear to their hearts. And as Less Than Jake fire toilet rolls, confetti canons and streamers onto 1,500 fans in the capital, it’s safe to say ska is still the best way to have fun.

Less Than Jake 2015 live KOKO

Ska is a genre directly derived from the ’50s rocksteady and reggae sounds – genres few would dare to label irrelevant or dated (because they aren’t).

Much like many of the best ska bands that have managed to survive rock’s regular genre bias, Less Than Jake began as a punk band in 1992. It’s this mesh of power-pop hooks and indie label attitudes that have provided a backbone to the band’s 23-year career. Over 20 years of touring and they’re still selling out London’s most prestigious venues? No math required.

Give these Gainesville punks a riff to play with, and they’ll build it up into a ball of chaotic fun without fail. There are few bands that can get a crowd circling quite the same, as they prove consistently tonight, with the spark of their horn section firing up fans better than many second-rate breakdowns can manage these days.

Tonight it’s Plastic Cup Politics, All My Best Friends Are Metalheads and Johnny Quest Thinks We’re Sellouts that prove this band’s best hits haven’t dated a day.

With songs about love, growing up, failed marriages and leaving home, there’s little that separates their lyrical content from that of the biggest pop and rock acts.

Alongside Less Than Jake, the likes of Reel Big Fish, Goldfinger, Streetlight Manifesto and Me First And The Gimmie Gimmies are still capable of capturing a new generation of trumpet enthusiasts. You just have to look at the bands, like Yellowcard and beyond, who were once the punters being pulled into these ska shows, now playing alongside their heroes.

If there’s one thing music needs to hold onto, in my opinion, it’s the bands that aren’t afraid to have fun. Who help you shake it like you’re at a Taylor Swift concert, and run around like people possessed at a hardcore rave.

There’s every chance – especially if you don’t like fun – that ska isn’t for you. But as long as bands like Less Than Jake are putting on shows like tonight, ska will continue to be as relevant as ever.

Go on, it doesn’t bite.

What do you think about the state of ska in 2015? Tweet me at @JessBridgeman and @TicketmasterUK.