The first act for the evening was Robb Steele, a trio of rappers that pay tribute to the pioneers of the art while keeping its sound fresh and modern. These guys hit the stage with a lot of energy and kept it rolling through their set, bantering back and forth with each other between songs and putting some effort into their rhymes. It seemed like they didn't write a set list before the show and just decided what to play as they went along based on some of the chatting going on between tunes, which I personally felt added to the overall set. If you keep yourselves guessing, you can't really get into a stale pattern.
While their old-school sound does lend itself to the general Licensed to Ill-era Beastie Boys, Robb Steele take more cues from the beats and boasting of rappers like DJ Kool or Biz Markie. With moderate flow, in-time delivery and stage presence Robb Steele delivered an entertaining and energetic set, which marked a great start for the night and set the tone for the rest of the acts.
Next up were local punk-rock superstars the Humanoids, who hit the stage at full speed and didn't stop to look back. I believe that they had the shortest sound check I've ever witnessed and launched into their first song before anyone knew what was going on. It seemed to me that the midrange was a little high coming out of the sound system, which unfortunately washed out some of the fantastic vocal harmonies when the cymbals were put through their paces.
The band seemed to be feeding on the tremendous amount of energy they put out, running through their set like a runaway train and bouncing all over the place. I think I even saw the drummer pogoing while still abusing his kit without missing a beat. At times I wasn't sure if the lead singer was caught in the grip of pure rock and roll or having a seizure. Yes, that is a compliment. Their sound is very old-school punk, reminding me of the best aspects of bands like Born Against, Black Flag and Screeching Weasel. The Humanoids put on a stellar set and raised the energy level in the room in preparation for the main attraction.
Shortly after the Humanoids left the stage, veteran ska-rock heroes MU330 took over the room. Despite having been incognito for around three years, they sounded as if they hadn't even taken a break. Dan Potthast played the ultimate rock and roll front man cliché, complete with the obligatory "Are you ready to ROCK?" call and response. The trio of Dan on guitar and vocals, Ted Moll on drums and Chris Diebold on bass was rock solid as always and the trombones of Robert Bell and Gerry Lundquist were totally in sync and sounded gorgeous.
They played a variety of songs from their back catalog, including fan favorites "Hoosier Love," "Stuff" and "Fleeba" from Press and "KKK Hiway" from Ultra Panic. As an old Skankin' Pickle fan, I enjoyed hearing Gerry's familiar voice chiming in with comments between songs and adding his unique growl to the vocal harmonies. After leaving the set, MU330 returned to the stage to chants of "one more song" coming from the audience and ripped through another seven or eight songs, taking at least one request ("Rocket Fuel") from the crowd and asking for audience to sing the chorus for "LA." The midrange was a little high for them as well, though it wasn't as pronounced as in the Humanoids set. The musicians put on one hell of a show, proving that they still have the chops and intensity that they're known for.
The band seemed to be glad to be on stage together again, with Dan filling virtually every between-song break with thanks to the fans, his band mates, and KDHX personality Paul Stark and Ska's the Limit for all the support and help over the years. He promised the crowd that they'd be back again soon, so I hope that means we'll not only see more shows but also get a new album from the band. Welcome back home, guys. We've missed you.