28 September 2019 (gig)
04 October 2019
Hats off to the folks at Fireball for curating this beast of a ska/punk all-dayer, and at only £15 a ticket to boot. A welcome trip back to 2001, both musically and financially. Unfortunately, despite exit and re-entry being permitted at the Academy until 6pm, most of today's crowd clearly prefer to spend their early afternoon in the pub/in bed/watching TV/solving mysteries with their friends and a Great Dane [delete as applicable].
Hence, the lower end of the bill - including charismatic upstarts Millie Manders & The Shutup and rinky-dink piano botherers Buster Shuffle - has to settle for playing to a barely tenth-full venue, and with no bodies to soak up the sounds, that infamous Brixton Academy echo reigns supreme. Even veterans Snuff struggle, although the swirling Hammond organ and bold brass of 'Nick Northern' can't fail to hit the spot amongst those of us of a certain vintage.
Californian crew Save Ferris help to swell the ranks; this is, after all, their first London show in (we think) nearly two decades. They've been through no end of line-up changes over the years, but there's no mistaking Monique Powell's powerful voice, nor her ability to whip a crowd into a glorious bouncing, skanking mess. The best of their tunes are received like old friends, and a romp through Reel Big Fish's 'She Has A Girlfriend Now' (on which Monique originally guested) is a welcome surprise.
Goldfinger take that ball and run with it. Arguably the one band whose sound truly fills the Academy today, they hit the ground running with 'Spokesman' and 'Counting The Days' and probably could have coasted through the rest of their set on their fans' goodwill alone. These guys are no slackers, though, and a horn-laden rendition of ska/punk uber-anthem 'Superman' soon proves the highlight of the day. "Thanks for supporting us through 25 years of Goldfinger!" shouts singer/guitarist John Feldmann; guys, with shows like these, it's been our pleasure.
Tonight, headliners Less Than Jake don't quite live up to the heights of their set at this year's Slam Dunk Festival. Maybe it's because, on that grey day in May, they took on the British weather with a set that oozed Florida sunshine. This evening they're playing their 1998 album 'Hello Rockview' (arguably their best to date) in its entirety; in theory, a recipe for success, although initially Chris Demakes' guitar sounds worryingly thin. By the time they kick into all-conquering 'All My Best Friends Are Metalheads", all is well, and it's great to hear some of the record's lesser known songs live for the first time in years. It isn't until encore airings of 'The Science Of Selling Yourself Short' and 'Gainesville Rock City', though, that they truly unite all present, and remind us of those glorious days when ska/punk briefly threatened to rule the world.