Remember when you heard that ska died and you were so upset that you punched a hole through your porkpie hat? OK, that may not have happened, but if you feel a shade of nostalgia when you come across your old Toasters CDs, take heart: Ska has risen. Kind of.
Friday's Return of Ska: Part Deux at Altar Bar is a showcase of local, mostly third-wave-style ska bands. It's the follow-up to February's Return of Ska show, which was conceived by members of Reel-A-Peel and The Hang Lows after opening for The Dirty Heads last year.
"I don't want to say 'surprisingly,'" says Reel-A-Peel trombonist Michael Dely, "But ... [the first show] was surprisingly a huge success." Part Deux is also the release show for New Castle-based Reel-A-Peel's new record, Bananarchy.
While there is a tongue-in-cheek element to the title of the show, Dely wouldn't mind seeing a real ska revival. He jokes that Gwen Stefani "put the final bullet" in the genre the early 2000s, "but now it's been gone long enough that it's refreshing for some people to hear it." And because he was a high-school-band kid whose musical world was opened up by groups like Reel Big Fish, Dely thinks that ska could now facilitate a similar epiphany for a whole new generation.
Dominic Bartolomucci, singer and guitarist for The Hang Lows, sees the Return of Ska as more than just a revival. "We don't want to build the ska scene as much as we want to help the entire scene." Eradicating bad attitudes and promoting one another is the goal -- two things that, Barolomucci says, ska bands do best.
"I think that's a universal thing with ska music and that's what drew me to it, that positive underlying vibe. Our mission as a band is to have fun."
Being a ska band in 2011 can be lonely -- you end up looking out of place on many bills -- but, Dely says, "Now that we know we all exist, it's kind of a grass-roots effort to bring it back."
THE RETURN OF SKA, PART DEUX, featuring REEL-A-PEEL, THE HANG LOWS, MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE, 5 ELEMENTS, THE SKUNK 11. 8 p.m. Fri., April 22. Altar Bar, 1620 Penn Ave., Strip District. All ages. $10-12. 412-263-2877