Concert review and interview by JD Alvarez
About two years ago I was at a family gathering and was chatting with my nephew Richard. The funny thing about Richard, he’s very much into ska music. Not too many people in my everyday life are familiar with ska, so it was a good chat. We talked about a few bands we both liked, the classic bands. Such as Rancid, Reel Big Fish, Mighty Mighty Bosstones and No Doubt. You know, the ska bands that “made it” so-to-speak. I mentioned my stand-by old school bands like The English Beat, The Specials, Bad Manners, The Selector and Save Ferris. Richard told me about two bands I should check out. He said Mustard Plug and Big D and The Kids Table are the real deal. A bold statement coming from him.
Over the last two years I started to listen more and more ska-punk, especially Reel Big Fish and Rancid. I really enjoy that sound. I also got to check out the Dropkick Murphys and developed an appreciation for Celtic-punk. I’ll circle back to why this is interesting for me.
Earlier this year I made my way to the Warped Tour when it hit Carson, California. I was excited to check out several bands on my interview hit list. Luckily, it turned out Big D and The Kids Table were playing that day and I remembered what Richard said. Unfortunately, it was a little late to set up an interview, so I thought I was going to miss a chance to chat with them. A funny thing about Dave McWane (the bands front-man), turns out he is very accommodating. I saw him in the media area, so I walked up to his publicist and asked her if I could interview him. Next thing I know, he made time for me. The interview went well and I was able to catch their show. I saw what I can only describe as a full-throttle-ska-punk show. These cats were tight, and their fans loved them. Turns out Richard had a basis for his bold statement. More importantly, after the show, I witnessed a very classy act. Dave went out on walkabout and met with their fans. He signed autographs and took pictures with everyone that wanted one. He was there for nearly an hour in the baking zillion degree sun. I quickly decided I wanted to catch them again. I wanted to make sure these guys were as advertised by my nephew and my mind wasn’t playing tricks on me as a result of the near sunstroke I almost got that day.
I saw that I could catch up to them in October at the Glasshouse in Pomona, California. So I made a call to their publicist and she set up a second interview, a more formal one. The funny thing about interviews, most of the time you really don’t know who you will get. Sometimes it’s the lead singer, sometimes the drummer other times it’s a back-up dancer… you just never know.
As for the band facts go, they are from Massachusetts and formed in 1995. Their resume includes them sharing the stage with ska and punk icons such as The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Skatalites, Reel Big Fish, Dropkick Murphys just to mention a few. They are currently on tour supporting their most recent release “For The Damned, The Dumb and the Delirious.”
So I went in tow with my Photographer (Benny) to the Glasshouse. When we arrived our normal luck kicked in, we couldn’t get in. Security told us the guest list wasn’t ready and we had to wait. While we were out front, Ryan O’Connor (the bands Sax Player) overheard the conversation and approached Security. He told them we were clear to come in, he even walked us all the way back to their dressing room. Benny and I were impressed, in all the years we’ve been covering bands, only two other bands have ever rescued us like that (Dave Wakeling of The English Beat and Brian Mashburn of Starpool / Save Ferris). The thing is, Ryan didn’t know us from Adam, yet he helped us out nonetheless. What I started to notice was a trend was developing. That is, Ryan, Dave and the cast of gifted musicians were turning out to be pretty cool and decent dudes.
As for the interview, it wasn’t just with one band member. Everyone took part at some point in time. Dave, Ryan and Steve Foote (guitar) sat through the entire chat. What I took away from this interview was that their fans are extremely important to them. They believe in family, friends and their loyalty to all of them is evident. As I listened to their responses to a variety of questions, it was clear to me that these guys were genuine. They truly care about each other, they are more like brothers than band mates.
After the interview, I spoke with Dave about other topics, such as his poetry. He was very humble when we discussed his writing. He went on to say that he is confident in what he does in writing and music and doesn’t seek anyone’s approval. Although I sense he very much cares about what his mom and dad think. To that end, I could see why he is as well mannered, humble and successful as he is. I could also see why their fans love them so much. Their lyrics and performance mesh with the way they conduct themselves, and their fans feed off that.
Like at the Warped Tour, I was curious to see what Dave did when he wasn’t on stage. While Benny and I were out front, before Security told us the news and Ryan had to came to our rescue, we chatted with some of their fans. I mentioned this to Dave and told him there were three ladies close to my age that were big-big fans. He noticed I had some posters hanging out of my backpack and without hesitation, signed them for them.
Shortly thereafter, Benny and I found ourselves outside getting some air. Dave came out to give Security that infamous guest list. As he was walking back, I called him over and introduced him to the ladies I mentioned earlier. Again, without hesitation, he graciously took photo’s with them. I have been doing this long enough to know this; it was just another picture for him, but it meant the world to those ladies (fans). That is something I wanted to write about. That in addition to being a very good band, they are even better people.
That being said, I still had a job to do. To check out their show and write an honest review.
So the show began, the opening act were local favorites Defunked and Save The Swim Team. They both did a great job and earned cheers from the crowd. The third act was The Have Nots. I always tell my friends that no matter what, when I go to a ska show, I am always pleasantly surprised by someone. The Have Nots was my surprise of the day. These guys were great, and here’s where we circle back to Celtic-punk. They are from Mass, they have that Celtic-punk-ska-Dropkick Murphys-esque sound, yet they are unique. They also have a touch of the Clash, that went over very well with the crowd and with me. I expect big things from these guys.
As for the featured act, this time they had my undivided attention. I really focused on their sound and style. As I listened attentively, I observed a great feature for each band member. It didn’t matter what tempo the songs were, each band member was given their moment to shine at some point in the show. The horns were great, they had a dynamic sound to them. They were so good, Danny Elfman (Boingo) would have given them a thumbs up. The guitars were sharp, and the drums kept it together. McWane was crisp and entertaining, even Aaron Barrett (Reel Big Fish) would have been impressed by Dave’s onstage antics. Their fans got to hear the songs they came to hear, such as Faded, Myself, New Nail Bed, Modern American Gypsy, My Girlfriend’s on Drugs, Rotten, Hell on Earth, Bender, It’s Raining Zombies on Wall Street (new video release) and Steady Riot. They also played my personal favorite, their Specials cover of Little Bitch. Their fans were just as impressive. The front row was hopin’ while a skankin’ mosh-pit was in full effect. The thing about this mosh-pit was that these kids were looking out for each other. If one mosher’ fell, two others were there to help the other up. When I was walking from one side of the room to the other, some of these moshers literally shielded me from getting hit or drawn into the swirling pit. Like the band, these kids were a class act.
The band finished-up with Noise Complaint, The One, Checklist and L.A.X. The place was rockin’ and Big D brought it that night. Often times it’s hard to find good guys, that play great music. So if you’re looking for that combination, go see Big D and The Kids Table. What you see is what you get and you won’t be disappointed.
For more information on Big D and The Kids Table go to www.bigdandthekidstable.com or their social media pages on FaceBook and Twitter. Their music is also available on iTunes.
Big D and the Kids Table features: David McWane, Steve Foote, Ryan O’Connor, Chris Lucca, Derek Davis, Dan Stoppelman, Paul Cuttler and Nick Pantazi.