Random Hand, Reel Big Fish, Suburban Legends

Edmund Townend 24/02/2009

Has ska had its day? The mix of punk rock and reggae that is instantly recognisable with bands like Less Than Jake, Goldfinger and No Doubt strayed away from the tradition set by The Specials and Madness. The fun-loving moshpit was all the rage in the 90s and early 00s but seemed to disappear from the mainstream when newer emerging sounds took over.

However, the happy punks are out in force as Yorkshire's Random Hand take to the stage in support of American bands Suburban Legends (a newer take on ska, which is quite sickeningly poppy) and the well-established Reel Big Fish. Their ska-punk approach has a new twist with the inclusion of metal overtones and undertones. Bouncing frontman Robin certainly led the pack with strong trombone and clearly punk vocals but the real interest came from the guitar and rhythm section, abandoning reggae rhythms for metal lashings. The overdriven guitar and clipped bass provided a new edge. Shouts of 'Hey!' certainly seem oddly fitting amongst the noise.

Frequent blasts of bright guitar still roots them deeply in ska though, which lacks originality against such bold changes. The punk aesthetic is rooted in simplicity and anger, which is good for crowds looking to dance and fight, but for a musician it quickly becomes boring. At least with Random Hand you feel like they're trying to take an edge off it - they don't quite succeed, however, as the metal being produced today is a replacement for punk of the past.

The lyrics certainly hark back to the beginnings of punk in the song British with the chant 'Stand up for the anthem/Salute the flag!/Respect the monarch/Or push it back!' However tired the punk aesthetic seems, Random Hand certainly try to pull it off. Their music doesn't seem archaic or worn out with their new take mixing aggression and mischief and both reggae and punk, all testament to their evolution. The crowd gets stuck in and Random Hand voices their appreciation of those who can accept new, different music. They thoroughly enjoy their set and the crowd's response. A simple, repetitive method, but a very interestingly different one.

Photo by Stellar Spontaneous Photography

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