It’s not often, nor are there many venues that host shows that are anywhere near as well organized and shall I say as professionally put together as the one I attended this past Friday at The Court Tavern in New Brunswick New Jersey, where I went to see home town heroes The Hub City Stompers perform with the legendary Ska outfit Bigger Thomas who are celebrating their 30th year this year.
The Court Tavern has gone through some changes over the last couple of decades from being a solid reputable venue for underground music to a weak non caring mismanaged shit hole. Now, once again The Court Tavern is under new management, and it appears that it is returning to its former glory as a very caring home for real music that seems to respect both the artists as well as the customers who come to attend it’s shows.
Upon arrival we heard the sounds of classic old school Ska filtering it’s way up the stairs from the lower level music room, this was being spun by one of two DJ’s –Selecter Judge Knott and DJ Chuck Dat of Steady Sound System who tag teamed one another with all vinyl sets of classic Ska throughout the night between band sets.
The first band to play was hardcore Oi act Damage Done, unfortunately we missed there set I’m sorry to say, but next up was a blistering and angry set by the local Oi band Dusters, who got some of the local crowd worked up and bouncing off one another in the mosh pit. Dusters have some promise, and the band was tight but the Front man was lacking in enthusiasm unfortunately giving their set the lack of the one two punch it needed to really carry the energy being delivered by the rest of the band.
Dusters set ended and more classic Ska was delivered by the DJ’s who did a really remarkable job of setting the mood for the evening.
Next to take the stage was Bigger Thomas, and by this point the room was approaching capacity as front man Roger Apollon who as always was dressed to kill, stepped up to the mic and began slaying us with all our favorite Bigger Thomas tunes getting the crowd skanking like crazy to BT classics like Ska In My Pocket and I Can’t Remember My Name by the end of this set the place was packed and the energy was high.
Hub City Stompers took the stage and kicked it off with a new song called Hub City Stomp which started off slow and cool then erupted into a full fun fast blast of horns and front man’s Reverend T. Sinisters unique vocal stylings, which immediately worked the crowd into a frenzy… after playing a couple more new ones off the bands upcoming 6th full length album Haters Dozen mixed in with many classic fan favorites they brought up Coolie Ranx of The Toasters and The Pilfers, who joined them for another new song entitled Distance Water which they dedicated to the late great Roy Radics of the Rudie Crew who also appears on the recorded version of the song, a couple more songs through the set and the band starts up a Ska cover of Fugazi’s Waiting Room, during which another Ska legend is announced to be in attendance, and who do they bring up on stage next? The Legendary King Django gets up, and Reverend Sinister hands the mic over to him and he spontaneously raps something fantastic that seemed to say something about him having a head cold and the only cure was attending a Hub City Stompers show and receiving some kind of Devine intervention from the good Reverend T. Sinister, at this point Coolie Ranx also returned to the stage and the three of them did a back and forth with one another, all during the constant beat of Waiting Room. This one song was reason enough to come to this amazing show and I am so happy I caught this trio in action.
The set ended with the bands signature Hub City Stompers which is actually an Inspector Seven song written by Sinister twenty years ago before forming HCS and taking the name. There was then the obligatory rush to the merch table as the bands all passed out their sweaty hugs to one another and shared a shot and a beer. Thus another great and forever memorable show night came to an end in New Jersey.
Thank you Court Tavern for being cool once again and putting on a truly memorable night of entertainment. We will return.