If you needed a break from the chilly unpredictable weather, Cafe Campus was the place to be on Saturday night.The Bostonian ska punk powerhouse, Big D & The Kids Table, were in town to keep us warm. Returning for a second time this year, the band was ready to deliver to the eager, slightly inebriated fans. Kicking the evening off a little earlier than usual, there was no shortage of alleyway beer consumption beforehand. Bringing a smaller tour to Montreal this time, the band were here to play some new tunes off of their recently released “Strictly Covers” album.
With a a city so in love with ska, there was no shortage of bands that could have been selected as openers. This time around, the stage was set for Repentigny’s own Les Happycuriens . A fitting choice for the night. This seven piece Francophone band hit the stage on time, with not a minute to waste. Adorned in matching band baseball jerseys that read “Les Happy”, the group had people up and dancing straight away. With a blend of old school, faster ska, with a lot of soul, they were certainly finishing the night with some new fans.
With solid vocals and harmonies shared between every member of the group, and in both English and French, it was a perfect mix for every taste. Halfway through the set, we were treated to the stunning vocals of synth player Myriam Lamy. It was certainly the highlight of their set, as the audience roared for more. But to no avail. Leaving everybody questioning why she wasn’t featured more. Not the only question left unanswered; as some wondered about the awkward stage presence of the group. With their long-haired bassist taking front and center stage, as if he were in a metal act. Headbanging to Ska. Maybe he was at some point, who knows? Playing about only six songs, including one new pirate themed drinking tune. It was short and sweet but just enough to warm up things for the headliners.
Big D & The Kids Table
It was still early, but the beer was flowing as if it were last call already. The wall of merch was disappearing faster than people could line up to grab a keepsake from the night. Big D & The Kids Table, returned to Montreal for the first time since their appearance at Pouzza fest earlier this spring. Lights went out and the crowd geared up.
As all seven members squished onto the tiny stage. Frontman Dave McWane wasted no time diving right into it. Normally, the troup would consist of nine members, but on this night, the bands back-up singers, The Doped-Up Dollies, were off on their own. Playing solo for the first time in their careers. Amusingly enough, with former members of the Kids Table in tow. Seamlessly playing the groups most known songs “Noise Complaint”, “Steady Riot” and “Fly Away”off of their 2007 album, “Strictly Rude”.
As a half skanking mosh pit erupted, it created a huge release of energy. Knocking a few people to the ground. With a bit of a raspy voice, due to a cold, singer McWane finally addressed the crowd. “Hi, my name’s Janet, and I am going to need some help on vocals this evening.” Sounding like an old Floridian woman, who had one too many cigarettes in her lifetime. He didn’t even need to ask as most were already singing every word.
Playing Montreal as often as they have, probably means retailoring the setlist must be hard, with so many great songs. With each one, the crowd seemed to gain more excitement. From revisiting a few songs on their 1999 release, “Good Luck”, to throwing in a few surprises from their 2013 album, “Stomp”. Pulling out all the stops, fans didn’t seem to run out of stamina. Seemingly wanting more. With this type of ska music, you can’t help but feel the positive vibes. It makes you want to get up and move. Especially with songs like “My Girlfriend’s On Drugs”, or with their cover of “Little Bitch” by the English two tone ska band, The Specials.
Running through seventeen songs, the night still went by rather quickly. As they announced their last tune of the evening – not really fooling anyone (who had ever been to a punk show). We knew there was an even more awesome encore to come. Touring for their newest album, a collection of cover songs named “Strictly Covered”, which can be heard and purchased from their Bandcamp page. Starting with “Yelling In My Ear”, from Operation Ivy’s “Hectic” Ep. The audience went nuts, breaking into a frenzied circle pit, with some invading the bands space and jumping off anything in sight.
Up next was a very sarcastic cover. Originally done by the very politically charged band, Propagandhi. “Ska Sucks” takes aim at the over saturation of bands who have gotten into the scene for the money or the fame. Though it didn’t seem to matter to most who love both bands. And it seems that Big D & The Kids Table have switched up the lyrics in the last segment to make it more to their taste.
Surprising us next with a cover of the Beastie Boys “Brand New”. It was an obvious choice, as it fit Big D & The Kids Table sound perfectly. Maybe not the sort of cover you might expect, but definitely a wise choice. Finishing on a very ska note, with a cover from another Boston band that have influenced them through the years; The Mighty Mighty Bosstones. “Dr D” even sounds appropriate for them to cover. The Bosstones, according to McWane himself, love the cover a great deal. (You’ll be able to read more from McWane soon at Modern Free Press, as we conducted an interview with the man prior to this show! Stay tuned!)
I’d say they did the job of warming us all up for the night, as most left covered in someone else’s sweat. Or maybe that was the beer? Surely one of my favorite times seeing them live, and certainly not the last. With a new album in the works for 2020, they’ll be back to visit us soon.
Written by Samantha Morris, Photographed by Kieron Yates.