By Daniel Turner
New Brookland Tavern has long been a bastion for punk, metal, and ska shows in Columbia, SC, and still is. The last show I covered at New Brookland Tavern was headlined by the legendary H.R. of Bad Brains fame. The band I’d be covering tonight played their first live show supporting Bad Brains all the way back in 1981.
The Toasters are absolute pioneers, being one of the original American third wave ska bands. The Toasters have had a rotating cast of members over the decades with the one constant being Rob “Bucket” Hingley. Bucket formed The Toasters back in 1981. After recording their first EP Recriminations in 1985 and failing to find a label to release it Bucket decided to go the DIY route and started his own label Moon Ska Records.
Tonight’s opening band, Atlanta based Bad Leavers may be a newer band but vocalist and guitar player Joe Hottel is not stranger to Ska. A former band of his, The Skunks, was once signed to Moon Ska records. Joined by his bandmates, Amanda Sherman (they/them) on trumpet and vocals, Reid Stegall (he/him) on tenor sax, Dave Sherman on baritone sax, Lyons Shockley (they/them) on bass and Lüis Nieves on drums the band had an extremely well rounded out sound and were a perfect opener for the evening. In no time at all the band had the small but enthusiastic crowd going. Two step dance moves and swinging elbows quickly made their own space in the pit. The band certainly seemed to play off the crowd energy and it was clear that everyone was having a great time. Bad Leavers were met with glowing approval and;: I’d wager a few new fans, myself included.
After a short intermission The Toasters took the stage and after a quick sound check and a bit of banter with the crowd things ramped back up. With such a long running musical career The Toasters drew a crowd that ranged in age from OG fans from back in the 80’s to younger fans jumping at an opportunity to see a legend of the genre. The crowd was skankin’ along to every song, and the upbeat energy was palpable in the room. There seemed to be smiles on faces everywhere I looked. The band seemed to be having just as much fun as the crowd in “The CBGB of the southeast” as front man Rob “Bucket” Hingley referred to New Brookland Tavern, drawing cheers from the crowd.
The jokes and stories between songs would continue with Bucket thanking venue owner Mike Lyons for hosting them through the years. Bucket would tell the origin story of one of my favorite songs “Pirate Radio” about a boat named Caroline in the English channel that would go back and fourth between the English side and the French side of the channel broadcasting their own radio signal to duck the BBC. Speaking of ducking government control Hingley would take a moment to talk about the politicians all over the world before launching into “Don’t Let The Bastards Grind You Down”, another absolute classic!
That seemed to be the last song of the evening but the crowd wasn’t having it. After calls for an encore the band took the stage again, this time playing a classic that was likely the first Toasters song that every 90’s kid that grew up on Nickelodeon ever heard, “Two Tone Army”. After letting the crowd skank their asses off one more time the band left the stage to interact with fans while Bucket hit the merch booth to sign records and other merch while chatting with fans.
The Toasters was one of the most fun shows I’ve been to in ages. Music is life, live a fun one, listen to ska!