Planning note for anyone operating a flooded concert venue: If you want to keep concertgoers out of the mud, don’t expect one of ska-punk’s most boisterous voices to play policeman.
“I know Buffalo real estate is cheap, but that right there is a complete waste of real estate,” said Mighty Mighty Bosstones frontman Dicky Barrett of Canalside’s center grass, which had to be fenced off pre-show because of flooding after a day’s worth of hard rain.
Aside from a few gatecrashers, the expanse stayed empty, helping show officials avoid a repeat of last year’s sloppy Shaggy debacle. More importantly, the vacancy didn’t do much to dampen the sound of Barrett and his Bosstones, who teamed with fellow Bostonians Street Dogs and locals Kickstart Rumble to manage around the first sogginess of Canalside’s summer concert season and carry concertgoers via punk-fueled party tunes through a bouncing Thursday night affair.
For those who haven’t been paying attention to the evening’s Beantown-bred ska-punk proprietors since their tunes were echoing out ’90s-era college radio, here’s what you’ve missed: a quartet of low-key releases after mainstream smash “Let’s Face It” in 1997; a brief hiatus before reuniting to record and perform in 2007; and multiple visits to Buffalo, the latest this past New Year’s Eve in Town Ballroom.
And with these performances – including a previous visit to Canalside in 2012 – Barrett and Co. have shown that, despite being decades grown from the snarling punks that tore up Fenway Park-area rock clubs like the Rat in the mid-’80s, the usually plaid-clad band still knows how to party.
Dressed in matching red blazers, the eight-piece band followed Barrett and dancing mascot Ben “Bosstone” Carr into opener “The Old School Off The Bright.” Infused with the band’s historical combination of three-man horn section and guitar-and-bass thunder – as well as their frontman’s functionally stripped vocals – they rolled through newer fare before serving throwback ska-core template “He’s Back” beside fan favorites “Someday I Suppose” and “Rascal King.”
Without their solid showing, the Bosstones might have been overshadowed by their Mass Pike travel mates, the Mike McColgan-led Street Dogs. McColgan spent his band’s searing punk set clad in a black Irish scally cap, stalking the stage like a prizefighter on uppercuts like “State of Grace” and “Not Without A Purpose.” When not on stage, he was in the crowd, working sun-kissed attendees into a lather with fist-pumping songs like “Punk Rock And Roll” and “Tobe’s Got A Drinking Problem.” Starting the night off was the latest local Battle of the Bands winner, Kickstart Rumble. The John Pinelli-led rockabilly quintet stirred early arrivals with both roadhouse rockers and greased-up boppers ripe for a ska-flavored fifties sock hop. New track “At The Drive-In” bouncied between eras as the early evening sun joined the party.