It feels just like yesterday when I saw five guys called SKATERS open up for Portugal. The Man and thought to myself, “Damn, these guys are good.” But as with most openers, I assumed they were some local act I’d probably never see or hear of again. Clearly, I was wrong.
SKATERS at Boot and Saddle in Philadelphia
For more on SKATERS, check out our recent interview.
The past few months have been shining with a buzz about these New York up-and-comers. I never would have guessed I’d be on way to see them for the fourth time on Friday night, but it didn’t lessen the excitement I felt getting to catch SKATERS again (does this make me a groupie seeing the same band four times in less than a year?).
Nestled in the heart of South Philly, Boot & Saddle welcomed back SKATERS, who previously opened up for Palma Violets a few months back. During that set, I remember front man Michael Ian Cummings asking the crowd who saw them last time they were in town… absolute silence. Yet by the end of their set, people were buzzing with the same positive reactions I felt the first time I saw them. Friday night proved to be a little different, as people were actually there to catch SKATERS as the headliner.
With the overhead lights dimming, “Shimmy Shimmy Ya” by Ol’ Dirty Bastard started to blast through the venue and the guys took the stage. Honestly, any band that walks onto stage blaring that song deserves a bunch of credit in my book (how about a cover?). In line with their debut album, Manhattan, SKATERS opened their set with “One of Us,” the percussion-heavy track with aggressive guitar riffs, which set the tone for the night.
As expected, SKATERS set was basically Manhattan out of order… but that’s predictable when a band only has one album. Obvious standout tracks were previous singles “Deadbolt” and “Miss Teen Massachusetts,” both of which had the crowd singing along word-for-word. In typical concert fashion, the upbeat “I Wanna Dance” appeared to steal the show, as the crammed venue was full of sweating, dancing bodies.
My personal highlight of the night, however, was their cover of The Smiths’ “This Charming Man.” It almost seemed to be an odd choice for a cover, mainly due to the fact that it seems impossible to successfully cover a Smiths’ song, but SKATERS nailed it, and the crowd definitely approved. As new as SKATERS may be, their sound is incredibly polished and they play with a quality that is reflective of a band that’s been playing for years.
As much as I’ve listened to SKATERS, both live and through their album, over the past few months, I was still into their set just as much as the first time. Maybe it’s five guys being crammed on a small stage that makes it so noticeable, but SKATERS bring such a positive dynamic and energy, making it nearly impossible not to thrash and sing along with them. It’s no wonder the band has exploded in the past few months; it’s hard not to be sucked in.
SKATERS have no doubt been on the radar as an artist to watch. Even though they’re frequently (and by frequently I mean always) compared to certain bands (I will refrain myself), I still think SKATERS have set themselves apart as a punk-esque, rock and roll influenced band with hints of pop and even some reggae. It’s a perfect blend that not many can do, so it’s no wonder that it’s easy to compare to their predecessors. Either way, SKATERS are slowly but surely making themselves a namesake, and I think it’s only a short time before we start seeing them take on the larger venues.
Article and photos by Erika Reinsel