Everyone has missed out on something—it’s the reason that we have cover bands and Ren Fairs. Like a Ren Fair, patrons of The Middle East broke out their favorite masquerade costumes and came in character. Costumes of note included several Cat Women, the Black Swan, Elwood Blues (I didn’t see Jake…), and Hunter S. Thompson (pray for us).
As the last few straggling children finished goading candy out of neighbors and began jumping around the house in sugar-induced frenzies, The Fat Mikes opened strong as NOFX, re-kindling the music of their childhoods—the music of Fat Mike, NOFX’s lead vocalist, jumping around stage. Recently re-formed, they came on with all the energy of their predecessors.
They played songs from several different albums, mostly from the Punk in Drublic and I Heard They Suck Live!! days, centered around the mid 90’s as well as “Stranger Than Fiction” by Bad Religion. As a tribute to Destroy Babylon, they included “Kill All the White Man,” a NOFX reggae song. Lacking a trumpet, one of the members took up the mouth-trumpet (an instrument composed only of his mouth) and continued with it for “Bob.”
The Sterns, a Boston-based band composed of former members of ska bands Mass. Hysteria and Westbound Train, came on next, playing Fleetwood Mac covers—imitating the classic rock sound popular for half a century. They had a strong vocal presence that mirrored Christine McVie’s original vocals and came together the way that Fleetwood Mac always did, playing classics from the 70’s like “Say You Love Me” and “Go Your Own Way.”
Destroy Babylon took the stage in trippy 1970’s apparel. Riki Rocksteady of Riki Rocksteady and the Arraignments sang a solid accompaniment. They played the entire The Harder They Come soundtrack, the album commonly credited with first popularizing reggae in the United States.
The songs had a little more of an electric sound than the original album had. Even so, they did Jimmy Cliff justice. The reggae sound wasn’t an affectation—their own music has roots in the Rasta tunes of the 1970’s, as was revealed in the encore.
There wasn’t a person in the room who wasn’t moving, swaying or dancing. The crowd gave Destroy Babylon a lot of love —many of them will be back to see the reggae group on stage again soon at The Middle East in December.