If you weren’t at the big reggae fest in Tad Gormley Stadium or hanging with your pops on Father’s Day, there was a great little ska show happening Sunday night at Gasa Gasa. Two local bands, UGLY and Joystick, opened for the Florida reggae group, The Supervillains. Each band brought their own upbeat energy to the club.
UGLY is funk rock that could only be the product of listening closely to the sound of New Orleans. Their set was reminiscent of War and Parliament, which could very well be influences, because the lead singer wore a Funkadelic shirt. To quote one of their songs, they “did their thing” and up next was Joystick.
Before the show even started, the concept of the eight-piece ska/punk group, Joystick, cramming onto the less-than-cozy Gasa Gasa stage had me curious. The band gave the impression that they would have utilized any sized stage, though, as they comfortably maneuvered around each other, four horns and all. Hair dyed electric blue and skin covered with tats, the singer Paul Tucker brought an awesome punk rock energy to a fun performance. Joystick has catchy horn riffs, thanks to a brilliant brass section, and they fuse a relaxed, skanking style with fast-paced punk rock, transitioning seamlessly. After leaving the crowd craving more fun, and pizza, the big band cleared the tiny stage for The Supervillains.
Out of St. Cloud, Florida, The Supervillains have been through an interesting musical progression in the last fifteen years. They first put out a self-titled EP in 2000, followed by a full length in 2002, and have released six more albums since. When they began, their sound was very punk/ska, similar to Fishbone or Voodoo Glow Skulls. This paired well with their goofy personalities and colorful humor. On their releases, the band recorded movie samples into their songs and at the end of the first few albums, each final track is a 20-minute verbal list of thank you’s from the members while they crack jokes in a room together. Around the time of the fourth record, Grow Yer Own, The Supervillains had forged a departure from ska toward a more reggae sound. However, they took a hard turn toward a pop/progressive fusion in the next two releases, Postcards from Paradise and Robots. Their final record to date, Volume 8, released in 2013, has almost no trace of the high-energy punk sound of their earlier recordings. It includes reworked versions of previous singles and is closer to the Cali-reggae vibes of Rebelution or Fortunate Youth.
Since their latest album, they have lost their saxophone player and implemented no horns in their Gasa Gasa performance. Despite their change in direction over the years, the group didn’t show any signs of exhaustion and played a very tight show. The set was a mixture of chill reggae tunes and their old punk hits. They laid out some truly impressive jams even while goofing off with each other and taking shots onstage. Lyrics full of obscenities, bitter romance, drinking chants, and pot references, The Supervillains are the kind of guys who are clearly still in it for the fun.