Tonight at Mr. Kyps Green Day tribute ‘Green Bay’ are playing. The real reason I’m here though is to see tonight’s supporting band The Skinny Skulls.
The venue is busy, the stage is softly lit and the Skinny Skulls walk onstage to a warm welcome. The band begin to play and the sound quality is as high as ever at Mr. Kyps. The first thing that strikes me about The Skinny Skulls live act is how professional they come across. The band in front of me are confident, relaxed and without any sign of arrogance – they look like they’re having fun. The Skinny Skulls have already played a matinee show today so they hit the ground running and don’t let up for thirty minutes of enjoyable and endearingly quirky punk rock.
The Skinny Skulls sound is full of contradiction. The combination of Henry Dalton’s sensitive electric piano work, Grant Dirckze’s hard hitting drumming, Antony Bowker’s assertive bass playing and Stu Cresswell’s guitar and distinct vocals result in something altogether original sounding. Their root and direction is punk but the finish is light hearted and non threatening, If it weren’t for the betraying accents, you’d be forgiven for thinking The Skinny Skulls were an American band. Drawing comparisons to other bands isn’t so easy. Throughout the set I’m reminded of Weezer, Ben Folds Five, The Stranglers and The Clash.
Looking around the venue I notice members of the audience singing along – a sure sign that there’s more to The Skinny Skulls legacy than I realise. The band have a nice onstage aesthetic, the atmosphere is upbeat and each member of the band clearly has his own personality. There’s some jovial audience interaction between the music and when a song doesn’t require piano work, Henry joins the crowd. The Skinny Skulls announce the title of their next song to be ‘Bespin’ (a Star Wars reference) I smile to myself as I know exactly what they’re on about. More importantly I suddenly see The Skulls’ geek flag flying high. Like a missing puzzle piece that had been in front of me all along, things fall into place and I have a much better understanding and appreciation of what I’m seeing and hearing.
The highlight of the set for me is ‘Light Fantastic’. A catchy song that, like a lost piece of shrapnel, I still have stubbornly lodged in my head days later. There’s something very cool about this band. I can’t quite place the ingredients but the mixture tastes good. The Skinny Skulls don’t get together much but when they do, I can see why they pull such a good crowd.
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