The smell of cheap booze and incense filled the air of Bottom of The Hill, on September 30, as family, friends, and fans from across San Francisco anxiously waited for their favorite Ska bands to take the stage of the small dimly lit venue. Ska is a lesser known genre of upbeat reggae, which gained popularity in the U.S. in the 1960’s. A big neon sign in the middle of West San Francisco’s industrial area, promised Ska fans with an exciting night ahead. The crowd ranged anywhere from 15 year old reggae fans, to 60 year old 80’s heavy metal connoisseurs. The rare sight of men in dapper outfits, and some in Metallica tour merch, mingled as multiple trombones, trumpets, and bass’ began piling on the stage. The Ska bands playing, included a line up of The Skunkadelics, Shark Punch, Joke For Feelings, and Day Labor.
The men in the audience, wearing suspenders and button ups, soon separated themselves from their conversations and took to their instruments on the stage. They introduced themselves as “The Skunkadelics”, and kicked off the night with a few of their original songs. The songs ranged from fun, upbeat jams such as “Yolanda”, to more classic reggae, in their song, “Oblivious.” It didn’t take long for members of the audience to create a dance floor right in front of the stage. Some head-banged, some swing-danced, while some made up moves of their own. Despite being someone who came to review the event from the outside looking in, I found myself in a pool of fans jumping around, within minutes of the second chorus. The energy of the room, woke up even the most laid-back fans. There was something about the keyboard, and the trumpets, that gave the music life to the audience.
As the Skunkadelics came to an end, Shark Punch took the stage, as if they owned it.
They wasted no time getting comfortable, and pumped up the crowd with their loud voices and charged music. Their sweet music took me back to the days of early 2000’s garage bands, with their unique voices and care-free lyrics. The lead singer jumped around the stage, stomping and singing, keeping the audience intrigued with his inexplicable energy. The keyboard player from Skunkadelics, ran through the audience, whisking my friend and I off our feet into a fun swing dance, as the rest of the audience cheered us on.
The rest of the night fed off the energy of Bottom of The Hill, as Jokes For Feelings and Day Labor performed. The lead singer of Jokes For Feelings, connected to the audience with his plethora of ‘dad jokes’, and dry humor, but soon moved into some Ska Punk and Jazz melodies. Jokes For Feeling’s other lead singer, surprised the audience, when she went from quiet background vocals, to leading their Jazz song, “Naughty Girl”, with her distinct vocals.
As someone who was not aware of Ska before this show, I was pleasantly surprised to say the least. Whether you are a fan of Ska, reggae, or 80’s rock, or maybe even just love to dance, this event was perfect for the music fan in all of us. The energy of the bands, and the ambiance of Bottom of The Hill, led to a night of ridiculous dancing, and screaming lyrics to lively songs.
The Skunkadelics will be performing again at Bottom of The Hill on November 22nd, and possibly the other bands, and at ticket prices of just $10, this is a must-go to event.