On a rainy Wednesday in Indianapolis, I don't think anyone in the crowd was entirely in the mood for a relaxing ska vacation. And judging by some of the on-stage banter by members of both the Pinstripes and headliners Westbound Train, it was pretty clear that we all were collectively feeling something that bummed out both performers and fans.
Even on a supposed album release show for their newest record, Come and Get It
, Westbound Train's charismatic front man Obi Fernandez found it difficult to initiate even a standard call-and-response. Westbound Train still managed to play 110 percent, igniting a small but mighty fire about halfway through their set, calling everyone to their feet and into action as the band picked up the pace. But when considering the financial responsibilities involved for a band to release an album and go on tour, and that a similar-sounding band like the Pinstripes was warming up a crowd far removed from their Boston hometown fan base ... Well, I guess it's a long way to the top if you wanna rock 'n' roll.
The Pinstripes, largely from Ohio but also featuring members of Indiana's own Green Room Rockers, played second. The audience slowly emerged and began ska-boppin' along as the Pinstripes drove their sweet ska machine into our ears, filling a dance floor that doubles as a church basement during office hours. I saw the Green Room Rockers play this exact same venue at Saturday's Punk Rock Prom, and now that the Pinstripes have apparently acquired some members of GRR, I'll say that the difference between the two bands is minimal. And that was fine with me, because I really enjoyed the Green Room Rockers, and therefore I also enjoyed the Pinstripes.
It was up to Louisiana band Outlaw Nation to break the ice before a crowd of unfamiliar faces. Lead singer Christian Simeon sang his heart out in a manner reminiscent of the late Bradley Nowell of Sublime as his band pounded out chronic-laced nugs of rock, reggae and reality. The similarity to Sublime isn't accidental: Outlaw Nation's manager helped discover Sublime.
Not that the Pinstripes and Westbound Train displayed anything less than their "A" games, but it's kind of hard to top Outlaw drummer JB's nearly five-minute-long drum solo, smoothly played while simultaneously juggling his drumsticks through the air, each stick circularly bouncing up from one hand into the other and right back into the groove. He was one of the sweatiest, happiest and possibly largest drummers in reggae punk that I have ever seen.