SARASOTA – Area based ska band Pressure Dem rocked the Munchies 4:20 tiki hut Saturday evening, and it was a good day to drink and dance and watch the storm clouds roll in over the scene. Munchies is doing live music on Friday and Saturday evenings, and bands like Pressure Dem are working to establish the restaurant/full-liquor bar as a reliable nightlife venue.
There was a good crowd on Saturday, occupying barstools and tables and making rounds on the dance floor. Mark Pelam from Bootleg was there—the night before he and Pressure Dem guitarist Tommy Rudek gave an acoustic performance in Bradenton, which I’d attended, and so we were discussing this when I saw a couple girls I know walk into the tiki hut. They came over and ordered blue slushy margaritas. Pressure Dem was playing their second set. The bartender pumped the margaritas from the slurpee dispenser and brought them over. The girls said they liked the band. It was upbeat, and funky and fun, like reggae but more attention-keeping: music that makes feet tap, and eventually leads one to dance.
The band was good. Pressure Dem is all Roots-rock vocals and upbeat beat riddims, perfect harmonies and driving drums, and beautiful vintage organ and one guitar providing rhythm and leads—it's reminding of the 2 Tone-style stuff that Tim Timebomb, of Rancid, and The Interrupters are doing—and lead singer Jahson plays bass while singing, which is always cool. And on a few songs the mohawk’d drummer Mike Fender sang lead from back behind the kit, and this is also cool—it wouldn’t be cool if he did it all the time, but occasionally is good; the Beach Boys did that.
[ . . . ]
And then something big happened among the heat and beers: I saw the 4th Wave of Ska—
If there was ever a perfect time and place for the grinding gears of some rogue 2 Tone tsunami swell to come all water sucking and fish-killing, leaving the starfish there dying in the hot sun on the wet sand, drinking all the ocean up to build up and come super crashing down on the United States of America with 4TH WAVE POWER—it was Saturday evening in Sarasota’s Gulf Gate Commercial district.
The city commerce and parking lot concrete, combined with slow motion humidity and fronds of transplanted palms, not swaying in the no-breeze day, set the stage at Munchies 4:20’s incredible outdoor tiki hut, with their seemingly endless well/domestic Happy Hour and Fat Tuesday-style alcoholic slurpies—but it was the band, Pressure Dem, that made the Wave.
But where is this going? What could this possibly mean? What in god’s name is this lunatic talking about? That was Actual gibberish, right? Right?
Right. Well, yes and no. But sit tight—It will all make sense in the end, and you’ll be better off. But first, a bit of history::
As I pointed out in the last thing I wrote about Pressure Dem, ska music was invented in Jamaica toward the end of the 1950s. The sound evolved into reggae, but was revived in late-70s England and then again in the American '80s. These movements were the Three Waves of Ska—the first had no title, the second was called “2 Tone,” and the third simply “Third Wave.” Third Wave ska was characterized by its unique fusion with hardcore punk. This earned its genre nickname, “ska-core.”
When ska-core returned underground in the mid-2000s, nobody with any real insight expected a 4th Wave to happen. This was due to the fact that anybody who might’ve been working toward a ska revival, consciously, would’ve had their own tainting motives. This would make it suck. However, at the same time, musicians don’t play ska by accident—it is a very deliberate act. And so it would take some weird force to bring ska back to life, once more, as always on its own terms and for no reason at all other than to kick up the dust.
That weird force crashed though Sarasota Saturday evening at Munchies 4:20. It was Pressure Dem, with their new sound, which draws on elements of all 3-waves but somehow there isn’t any overlap—no ill-placed 11th-finger hanging out awkwardly and making people ask themselves, Why hasn’t that weird finger been removed?
Pressure Dem is #4WAV, as I’ve chosen to spell it, because it looks so modern?
(come see for yourself July 19 @ Dcoy Ducks on Anna Maria Island, and July 20 @ The Hub Baha Grill on Siesta Key)