Random Hand, Jake & The Jellyfish, Will Tun & The Wasters + Wreck The Place – The Packhorse, Leeds – December 20

It’s been around 10 years since ska punk was last deemed ‘cool’. These days, the people who used to spend their time skanking at gigs while wearing abnormally baggy shorts now often scoff at those who partake it the activity. Of course, with the fall in popularity of this marmite genre, the amount of active bands influenced by ska has dwindled significantly, despite the large number of reunions that have happened over the last few years.

Luckily, the Christmas gig arranged by Jake & The Jellyfish helped show two things: that quality ska-orientated bands are still out there, and there are still younger acts about with the potential to step up to the plate and fill the void left by the last decade’s alumni.

First up was a band that, on paper, may have stuck out on the line-up, but Wreck The Place’s infectious brand of folk punk went down well with the festive crowd. The band write well-crafted songs with thought-provoking yet catchy lyrics. Their set was often frantic, with fast-paced gypsy-style rhythms and the addition of a violin and cornet, while other songs were more acoustic guitar-led. The mix in tempos helped keep things fresh and made for a great set.

Will Tun & The Wasters certainly know how to put on an entertaining live show. The six-piece – featuring violin, accordion and ukulele players – jumped around on stage with huge smiles on their faces, making it hard to not enjoy the spectacle. The band play acoustic ska-punk fused with numerous other genres, including rap and folk. It doesn’t always work, but when they get it right, it’s really fun.

Next up were local favourites Jake & The Jellyfish. Half of the band’s songs seem to follow a more traditional folk punk sound while the other half is heavier, faster and ska-influenced. They are certainly capable at writing good songs in both styles, and with the number of people singing along, the crowd seemed to agree. It could be argued however that maybe they would benefit from honing their sound somewhat.

Last up was Random Hand, playing a rare small-venue gig. Despite a couple of line-up changes, the band are still going strong after over nine years together, and have an extensive and solid back catalogue to draw from. The sound system hampered the band somewhat, but they still managed to treat the crowd to a sweaty hour-long set full of aggressive ska punk bangers. Frontman Robin Leitch is an expert at interacting with the audience between songs and the bands’ energy certainly wore off on the enthusiastic punters.

– AC

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