I’ve said it before and I will continue to say it until the day I die– I think everyone would be a bit happier if they just spent some time at a ska show. Full disclosure, the Space Monkey Mafia show at the gorgeous Hook & Ladder Theater & Lounge in south Minneapolis was not my first choice when it came to my show for Saturday night but, as soon as I walked in, I realized that I wouldn’t have wanted to be anywhere else.

The show was a late one with the opening act Lost Island Society going on promptly at 9 PM but that was the only time I even noticed my watch. As soon as this opening band jumped into their set, I was lost in the music, the audience, and the overall vibe of the room. Like the other two bands of the night, Lost Island Society is a ska band but with a twist. The twist when it came to this band seemed to be an almost jazz influence that came through in some of their horn solos. Beyond that slight twist, I found Lost Island Society to be a perfectly well-crafted third-wave ska band. Their set can complete with sound snippets from South Park and The Simpsons, a slow dance for all of the couples in the audience, and even a quick rendition of NOFX’s “New Happy Birthday Song” for their bassist.

Regardless of what they were playing, the audience was eating up and it quickly became clear that the quickly growing crowd was there for a good time. It’s rare to see so much dancing during an opening act but the audience was feeding off the energy of Lost Island Society and spent the majority of the set in the middle of a nice and courteous skank pit. I enjoyed everything about their quick opening set but it was their cover of “Ain’t No Rest For the Wicked” from Cage the Elephant that was just the icing on the cake for me.

Following Lost Island Society was Milwaukee-based Something To Do. There was something oddly familiar about this group that had me rushing into my archives to try and see if I had seen them before but then I gave up because, well, I didn’t want to miss a single second of their set. To say that this band is a fun one to watch and listen to would be an understatement. From blaring horns to the dancing on stage that translated perfectly into the audience, I instantly fell head over heels for Something To Do. Whereas Lost Island Society seemed to have an almost jazz influence in their music, I felt that Something To Do almost had a gypsy punk feeling about their set. Although it was a clearly well put-together and rehearsed set, something about it just felt so organic which truly adds something.

Musically, I loved everything that Something To Do is about. One of the things that stood out to me the most was their unexpected and sudden tempo and key changes that were absolutely brilliant. I felt like they had me constantly on my toes ready but unprepared for what they were about to do with each song which, as someone who is constantly looking for small elements that set bands apart from others, was absolutely perfect. Another moment of perfection in Something To Do’s set was their surprising but flawless cover of “Levitating” from Dua Lipa. It just seemed like an odd song choice but what they did with this song was so damn perfect and, like the cover that Lost Island Society did, was the cherry on top of a truly eye and ear catching set.

Closing out the Saturday night festivities was a local favorite of mine, Space Monkey Mafia. I have seen these guys countless times but I will never get sick of them. The special sauce that made these guys stand out on Saturday night was the political activism that they talked about and sang about through the majority of their set. I won’t get into all of the political statements that were made on stage but I will say that they were absolutely aligned with the audience that was there which gave Space Monkey Mafia’s set a very powerful meaning and message behind it. Although I have seen this band a million times before, Saturday night was the first time that I had heard so many political comments between songs from them which was a bit surprising but I was there for it. Like vocalist Dante said, “We have a lot to be angry about” and that statement couldn’t be more true especially with some of the stuff happening in Minneapolis (if you don’t know what’s going on, look up the roof depot in Minneapolis).

This band’s brand of ska comes with a bit more of a groove and a bit more of a punk element when compared to the previous two bands which helped the night feel fresh all the way to the end of the show. Even though the majority of Space Monkey Mafia’s songs had a political element to them, they also had some super fun tracks thrown in there. They played a new song that had a chorus consisting of “I gave you my heart and you fave me covid” when it came to the chorus. This delicate balance between fun and serious is something that Space Monkey Mafia does so perfectly and like no other band that I have seen.

I was supposed to be snapping photos throughout the show on Saturday night but I honestly hated being chained to my camera so, within just the first song of Lost Island Society, I packed my camera back up and just enjoyed the show the way it was meant to be enjoyed– the the moment surrounded by friends both new and old and with a smile on my face. I’m so sorry to all of the bands for not getting photos but I think the fact that I didn’t want to spend a second of the night without focus on the fun happening around me says a lot about how amazing the entire night was.

Line Up:

Lost Island Society

Something To Do

Space Monkey Mafia

Venue: The Hook and Ladder Theater

Smell-O-Meter: Nothing

Average Age of the Crowd: 33

Crowd Surfers- None

Stage Divers- None

Skank-ability- 12 out of 10

Sausage-Fest Meter- 6 out of 10

Amount of Beer Spilled On Me While Walking Around- $0

Broken Bones- None

Spotted Flying Through The Air- Nothing

Fights- None Witnessed

Pukers- 0

Randomly Shirtless Men – 0

Passed Out Kids- 0

Idiots Taken Out By Security – None Spotted

How Irritated I Was With The Audience – 0 out of 10

How Many Times I’ve Seen These Bands Before (or at least how many times I can remember)-

Lost Island Society – 0

Something To Do – 0

Space Monkey Mafia –5

Celebrity Sightings – Ann of Mostly Minnesota Music; Chelsea of The Von Tramps; a member of The Subversives

Overall Score- 9.6 out of 10

Show on Deck —Pullstring / Scalise, The Over Unders / John Forrest and the Model Citizens

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