After much anticipation, the de facto centerpiece of festival season is finally upon the city of New Orleans. After a massive first act that included Foburg Fest, French Quarter Fest, and Austin’s South by Southwest Festival, the third annual Community Records Block Party is, seemingly by design, the punk rock primer for the laid back, lighthearted vibes of Jazz Fest and Hang Out Fest. Taking place this Saturday, April 16, from noon until midnight, the local festival will feature twenty bands on two different stages; and because that may seem overwhelming to the ska or punk newcomer, here is our best attempt to shed light on some of the acts appearing on Clio Street this weekend.
Community Records, being a New Orleans label, aims to showcase a mass of local talent at the Block Party. Friends of the label and rising rock band Sun Hotel will be bringing their raucous, anthemic post gospel live show, as will the Bay St. Louis-based heavy third-wave ska outfit Stereohype. Caddywhompus, looking to outdo their mind-blowing appearance at last year’s Block Party, will be in attendance with their fluid meld of noise drumming and mathrock guitar shredding, which Antigravity Magazine’s Dan Mitchell has very aptly argued “no one can touch” right now. The Rooks, a band fronted by Community Records’ own Greg Rodrique, will bring to the festival a refreshingly straightforward punk/ska ambiance, while street team manager Dominique Lejeune will take the stage with an intimate acoustic set. Not to be left out, D-Ray – the other third of Community Records – will probably sit in with five or six bands throughout the festival (if it’s anything like last year). Topping it all off will be the Mad Conductor, a hip hop group (with punk roots in the defunct No Cash) that blends sinister funk bass lines, psychedelic guitars and Q-tip-influenced lyricism.
Of course, much has been made of the level of national talent that the Community boys landed this year; but the poetic justice of having California veterans Rx Bandits basically kick off their farewell tour here in New Orleans simply cannot be overstated. As a guy who has narrowly missed seeing these guys three or four times in his life, the opportunity to finally experience the Rx Bandits with – quite literally – their entire career already behind them, may finally allow me to justify my own guitar’s adornment – a lone sticker that reads “The Pharmaceutical Bandits” featuring the quirky cartoon characters from the cover of their debut, Those Damn Bandits.
The Bandits will be joined by several other nationally touring acts: eclectic Michigan ska/punk artist Matt Wixson, whose midday performance last year was the sleeper hit of the entire festival; the Best of the Worst, a lightning fast punk band from New Jersey boasting a furious horn section that allows for the occasional ska interlude; and Informant, a seemingly uncategorizable progressive band from Texas that blends equal parts ska, punk, power pop, arena rock, and experimental music through a lens of lo-fi recording.
MP3: Rx Bandits: “Babylon”
MP3: Sun Hotel: “Swamp Thing”
MP3: Informant: “Lately”
MP3: Caddywhompus: “Big Fun”
MP3: Stereohype: “Blackout”
MP3: The Rooks: “Perception”
MP3: The Mad Conductor: “Yo Kid”
MP3: Matt Wixson: “Double Agent”
MP3: The Best of The Worst: “Why Don’t You Have A Seat?”