Last Night: The Slackers at Studio A

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The Slackers

September 28, 2007

Studio A, Miami

Better Than: That place with the good fried chicken with biscuits and gravy and all the fixin's

The Slackers are all about democracy. After a few wise cracks about President Bush and the state of the war, the band was feeling awfully patriotic when they gave their audience of pigtails, Mohawks, and bright colors-a-plenty at Studio A, Friday night, an option between two of their beloved classics – “Sarah” or “Married Girl”. With the slow crooning of “She called me up on the sly…” accompanied by the hoots and hollers that won the song a spot on the evening’s set list, it was obvious that “Married Girl” won the audience’s vote. The crowd skanked away, singing along to the lyrics of the elected song that they knew as well as the Pledge of Allegiance -- making sure to place volumed emphasis on the lines “married girl don’t you wanna, smoke a little marijuana?” as if they were boasting the narcotic of choice for their united front.

The etching of these lyrics into this crowd’s subconscious isn’t all that shocking. “Married Girl” is off of the band’s second album, Red Light, which is celebrating its 10-year anniversary with a remix contest. Fans can download songs off of the band’s web page and creatively alter, mash, and dub newly discovered raw tracks. According to long-time band member Dave Hillyard, the studio that was storing The Slackers' first few albums went out of business -- handing over tapes and tapes (and tapes) of the band’s first and unpolished recordings, including songs off of Red Light. “You can hear mistakes galore,” laughed Hillyard, who also said that sifting through the dusty recordings was somewhat of a treasure hunt. “We found songs we forgot we recorded,” said the tenor saxophonist, who hinted to a possible rarities release in the future.

Throughout the decade-plus that the band’s been together, they’ve made frequent stops down to South Florida, a fact lead vocalist Vic Ruggiero wanted to make abundantly clear. Forty-five minutes into the gig, after “Walking On”, “Mary Mary”, and a cover of Three Dog Night’s “Mama Told Me (Not to Come)” off of The Boss Harmony Sessions, Ruggiero said that Studio A was nice-looking club. “Very Saturday Night Fever,” he said and then mentioned that he felt kind of weird performing in Miami without his feet sticking to the ground like they’d been in previous shows at Churchill’s Pub. At this the audience snickered a bit, loosened up from alcohol, a dance-heavy show, and Ruggiero’s lighthearted accusations that this audience didn’t get his New York sense of humor. Apparently, it’s a highbrow brand of wit that us simple, southern, Florida folk can’t comprehend -- like this gem:

“We got into the airport in Ft. Lauderdale, and they were telling us there was a code orange at the airport. But, I thought being in Florida you guys were always code orange……get it? Florida…. oranges?”

Understandably, crickets could be heard and, if it had, so could a pin drop. But not for long. The band steadily rocked (or rock-steadied) through Ruggiero’s cheesy-joke-speed-bump. And if that rhetoric pin still laid on the ground, the crowd would’ve yelled to “pick it up!” as The Slackers extended their hour long show to pack in a few more jams, which included the voted-down “Sarah”.

Before playing the song off of the band’s first album Better Late Than Never -- which snagged The Slackers their first handful of fans -- Ruggiero mentioned that he was sick of playing “Sarah”. Luckily,he was feeling egalitarian, because the tapping of the first few keys of that song helped in my personal pursuit of happiness --nostalgically taking me back to a time in my life when I realized that ska could be much more than horns and a steady, repetitive beat. -- Elyse Wanshel

Critic's Notebook

Personal Bias:The Slackers headlined the first show I ever attempted to get into, and due to the fact that I was way underage, I failed miserably

Random Detail: The Slackers have a new documentary out appropriately named The Slackers: A Documentary and it’s available for purchase at Interpunk.com

By the way: If interested in The Slackers remix contest -- where winners’ remixes have a “possible” chance of making it onto a future album -- check out the details here

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