I knew I liked these guys the moment I saw their tagline: “a reggae infused punk rock sound with a little bit o’ Irish whiskey on top.” I’ve always felt that reggae and Irish rock were a perfect pairing (see New York’s Black 47 for a prime example) and was immediately intrigued by The Bastard Suns.
I went into the night unfamiliar with the band and their music and failed to realize that the crazy guys jumping on and off the stage for impromptu cameos during Knock-Out’s opening set were the effervescent members of The Bastard Suns. It was apparent early in the night that the quartet out of Atlanta love rock music and love performing.
Their nearly two hour set at Sanford’s cool West End Trading Company was a raucous energetic show that had the crowd dancing, bouncing. moshing and singing along throughout. The bands music is rough and edgy yet amazingly precise. They’re excellent musicians offering up a superb mix of reggae, ska and punk, all with a hearty Irish twist. It’s a damn good mix and an absolute blast to listen to.
“Start A Party” epitomized the band’s sound – a rollicking, feverish onslaught of fast-paced punk ska, that was performed perfectly. The musicians are all excellent and absolutely shined on this track, which is driven by rapid fire vocals and a powerful bass solo. “Wasted” was another crowd favorite that was accompanied by the band doing a shot of Jameson’s with a pickle juice chaser. The drink sounds nasty, while the song was nasty in a good way. Most of their selections were originals, including the guitar powered “We’d Go For Broke (But We’re Already There)” which they played for a member of The West End’s staff.
In addition to their excellent originals, they played a few cover songs, all stamped with their own unique Bastard Suns spin. “Maggie May” was offered with a unique twist and we heard a punkified version of Dire Straits’ “Walk of Life.” One of the highlights of the show was a tremendous version of “Soulshine,” which was introduced as a song from Georgia’s greatest band, The Allman Brothers. Here’s a Youtube version of the band performing it live. Good, good stuff.
Knock-Out, a trio from Riverside, California warmed the stage up and offered up a powerful set of aggressive punk with a touch of ska. As noted earlier, they had a great rapport with The Bastard Suns and shared the stage several times throughout the evening.
UNRB, a local ska band out of St. Petersburg was a great discovery. This group of six was an absolute blast. They offered up a fun blend of crisp ska, in a line-up that didn’t include a guitarist. Bass, drums, a three piece brass section, and an electric ukulele – an unusual approach, but it was fantastically fun, and highly recommended.
For those of you who have not made it out to West End, take a look at their concert calendar and make a trip out to the Sanford waterfront. They offer up great local and national acts in a cozy local rock room.