Ska festival unites cultures

By Ivan Cazares and Megan G. Razzetti

The sixth annual Skanking Reggae Festival featured bands singing in English for the first time at the Shrine Expo Hall Sunday.

Bands singing in English included Reel Big Fish. The band gained popularity during the 90s and its ska-punk sound felt right at home with the cumbia-infused music of El Gran Silencio. 8 Kalacas’s skacore music could be described as violent by anyone unfamiliar with the genre.

The Skatalites, originally founded in Jamaica in 1964, are considered the quintessential ska band by many. The band became legendary, backing up and coming artist of the era such as “The Wailing Wailers,” featuring Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer.

As the band began their set, the audience exploded into a frenzy of moshing, screaming and dancing.

“It’s a pleasure to be here playing with you guys, representing this music that came out over 50 years ago and is as relevant today as it was then,” tenor saxophone player Azemobo “Zem” Audu said.

The festival also featured Adhesivo, a Ska band founded in Salvador, alongside well known Mexican bands like Inspector and Pantéon Rococo. Mexican flags and Salvadorian flags were waved by enthusiastic fans during their sets.

Another band that performed was the Riverside-native Voo Doo Glowskulls. They incorporate a combination of Spanish and English lyrics into their songs but their music isn’t lost in translation. According to lead singer Frank Casillas, Voo Doo Glowskulls have been widely received in other parts of the world such as Japan and France.

During their set, the band pays tribute to their Mexican roots by wearing traditional Mexican luchador masks or wrestling masks. Over the years, the masks have become a trademark for the band.

“I used to watch lucha libre when I was a kid. It’s just something the fans can relate to, there’s a strong connection there,” Casillas said.

The Voo Doo Glowskulls tend to play on the faster side of ska while integrating elements of metal and punk into their sound.

Despite the many influences that each band incorporated in their music, the overall camaraderie shared by reggae and ska fans made the festival a great experience.

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