Live Picks: 06.30.2011 – 07.06.2011

07.01: High In One Eye + Native America – Dragon’s Den

07.02: Tony Skratchere hosts “America The Party: The Yacht Bounce Invasion” – Rusty Nail

07.03: Rx Bandits + Maps & Atlases – Howlin’ Wolf

It’d probably be a fools errand to retrospectively anoint an “ambassador” for third wave ska, an all-but extinct genre of music from the 1990s that to some was  nothing more than a passing fad, but to others was and is still a fully encompassing lifestyle and obsession. However, if there is one band that has proven itself capable of both capturing the ears of the former group and gaining the respect of the latter (and there may literally be only one band that has done this), it is the Rx Bandits.

After standing at the forefront of the ska/pop punk pseudo-explosion and releasing a couple of horn-heavy reggae rock albums at the end of the nineties, this California band began revealing themselves as musical chameleons with Progress, an album that immediately placed them heads above the enormous fray of nauseatingly cutesy, one-dimensional stereotypes that seemed to embody the turn of the millennium. From there, it was an eight-year journey through the outer reaches of Prog – complete with unpredictable song structures, intense rhythm shifts, keyboard solos, and mind-blowing guitar virtuosity – that was just as critically and commercially well-received as their catchy former verse-chorus construction.

Unfortunately for the Bandits, who recently announced that their 2011 Summer Tour will be their last, the capricious musical odyssey appears to be coming to an end. As such, their visit to New Orleans on July 3 will be our last chance to catch a band that – even though now pared down to a brassless four-piece – has become a fireball of peerless live energy and instrumental perfection. They’ll be joined at the Howlin’ Wolf by mathy, folk-influenced label mates Maps & Atlases.

MP3: Rx Bandits – “Breakfast Cat”

Check out our New Orleans Music Calendar for a full slate of constantly updated live picks

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