In a rare and fleeting feat of government competence, the Undergraduate Student Government chose to listen to the voices of the masses and bring a rock(ish) act to our school on the brook. The band they chose, Streetlight Manifesto, is one of the finest from the ska-punk scene and will be playing at SAC Ballroom A on Jan. 29.
After being given numerous rap themed acts, many students have been clamoring for a rock group to grace our hallowed halls, and USG has finally delivered.
Having the unfortunate fate to hail from New Jersey, Streetlight Manifesto is inspired by two other ska-punk bands native to the Garden State: the pioneering Catch 22 and the occasionally-stomachable One Cool Guy, with Streetlight’s frontman and creative mastermind Tomas Kalnoky coming from the former.
The band’s style is a mind-boggling blend of ska, punk, hardcore, jazz, rock and roll, reggae, Americana, acoustic, alternative rock, Latin, Gypsy, classical, Klezmer and rap, all performed at a blisteringly fast pace that leads one to entertain suspicions of severe crank abuse before each performance.
Having been to multiple Streetlight Manifesto performances, I can verify that when the sound guy does not turn up the bass so loud that you can not hear the guitar. the band is fantastic and plays some incredible ska.
The horns are on point, the guitar is rocking and the vocals are delivered at lightning speed, belting out brilliantly crafted lyrical missives on love, death, religion, politics, philosophy and life.
Streetlight has a level of songwriting, technical skill and creativity that is not just rare in the ska scene, but that is also very difficult to find anywhere else.
All students who got a ticket made the right choice. Those who did not…you should sit and think about where your life is going right now.
Speaking of the ska scene, a caveat about Streetlight’s genre is worth noting. Ska is a genre characterized by a walking bass line, guitar focused on the upbeats of the measure and (usually) a jazzy horn section. The genre went through three major waves of activity, the first establishing the genre in the 50s, the second giving it a resurgence in the U.K. (and later the U.S.) with roots in the punk and anti-racist skinhead subculture during the late 70s and the third infusing it with American punk rock in the late 80s through the 90s.
This transformation has gotten to the point that the ska-punk is sometimes more of a subgenre of punk than of ska for some bands.
Nominally, Streetlight Manifesto is a ska band from the third wave of ska, as the group’s music sounds much more like really complex punk rock with horns (certainly much more than almost any other ska band).
But Streetlight manifesto’s music is so complex and strays from the generic ska formula by incorporating many other genres that the purist hipsters, which make up a large part of the ska fanbase consider Streetlight to be not “real” ska.
Conversely, some Streetlight fanatics (as the term “fan” is far too moderate to describe them) consider the band so unlike other third wave ska bands and proclaim that due to its very late entry to the scene, the band is the leader of a fourth wave of ska.
Among the purists and the fanatics, the question of what is “real” ska is akin to asking Ted Cruz and Jeb Bush who the “real” Republican is; that is, it is only good for starting fights.
But for the sane (who, admittedly, are hard to find in a scene best characterized by a bunch of sweaty teenagers wearing fedoras and dancing by kicking their arms and legs in alternating fashion while running around in circles to the same exact beat, song after song, for two hours straight), that backstory is irrelevant.
Streetlight Manifesto plays incredible music, regardless of genre, and all students would be well served to show up to the SAC Ballroom and prepare to run around in circles for hours.
Unfortunately, despite what some third party websites say, you cannot (legally) bring in non-SBU students to the show. So if you have non-SBU friends, congratulations on having friends! We really did not think that would happen.