The current DIY ska scene has been gradually building for years, but it really picked up steam during the global lockdown of 2020. It was unfortunate timing for a genre that's so reliant on the thrill of the live show, but for whatever variety of reasons, that's when it started to click on a larger scale; maybe because current ska bands found so many innovative ways to create entertaining art during that period of isolation, maybe because the often-political genre provided solace during a period of mass social unrest, maybe because so many good ska records just so happened to come out all at once that year, maybe because the extra time at home gave people the desire to try out something new. Whatever the reason, ska made a big splash, and now that we're (sort of) on the other side, with live music back in full swing, ska shows are happening, and they are glorious.

Among these shows is the Kill Lincoln / JER tour, which kicked off in Chicago earlier this month and hit Brooklyn's Saint Vitus last night (6/8). It's the first tour ever for JER -- the project of Jeremy Hunter, who has left a massive impact on modern ska thanks to their Skatune Network covers project and their work as the trombonist of We Are The Union -- and one of the first post-lockdown tours for Kill Lincoln, whose excellent new album Can't Complain came out right in the middle of concert-less 2020.

Kicking off the Vitus show were Kill Lincoln and JER's Bad Time Records labelmates The Best of the Worst, who also opened the Philly show one night earlier and join them in Asbury Park tonight (6/9) and Boston on Friday (6/10). (The first four dates of tour had support from another Bad Time band, Dissidente.) The Best of the Worst, who hail from NJ, have been mixing ska-punk with metalcore for over a decade, and at this show they were supporting their great new album Better Medicine, which came out last year. If "ska-punk mixed with metalcore" sounds like oil and water to you, you might just have to see it live. Their metalcore parts are on point, tight, and heavy as fuck, and their ska-punk parts are as bright, fun, catchy, and full of rich horn lines as any of the genre's biggest bands. TBOTW got people going from moshing to circle-pitting to skanking at the drop of a hat, and it was all seamless. They also threw in a cover of Sum 41's "Fat Lip." Super fun!

After TBOTW, JER and their band -- which currently includes Kill Lincoln's horn section, JER's We Are The Union bandmate Ricky Weber on guitar, RB of Save Face/Get Tuff on bass, and drummer Woody Bond (who also plays on JER's album) -- took over, and the place really packed in for them. Again, this was just a few dates into JER's first-ever tour, and their debut album Bothered / Unbothered is just a few weeks old, but JER is already a super commanding, engaging performer, their band was airtight, and the crowd was eating it all up, constantly cheering and singing and dancing all night. JER's innovative take on ska-punk made for a setlist that was just one banger after another, and they interspersed their songs with calls to action against racism, homophobia, transphobia, sexism, and any other form of bigotry, and uplifting and empowering sentiments for anyone who's ever struggled to feel accepted and loved for who they are. It was impassioned and inspiring, and made an already-great set even better.

After JER, Kill Lincoln took the stage and the energy just kept going. Kill Lincoln push ska-punk to its fastest, catchiest, most adrenaline-rush-inducing extreme, and they really rev things up on stage in a way that their albums only hint at. They really treat both sides of the "ska-punk" equation equally, and their set was just as badass as any punk/hardcore show and just as dancey and fun-spirited as any ska show. (At one point, their trombonist Ume stood on top of something in the back of the room by the soundboard, and then crowdsurfed his way back to the stage while playing trombone, just to give you an idea of how wild this set was.) Their bassist CJ Uy had to sit this tour out, so The Best of the Worst's Jason Selvaggio filled in, and even with a slightly different lineup, they were as tight as you could imagine, and then some. The setlist was great, with plenty of highlights from Can't Complain alongside longtime fan faves like "Good Riddance to Good Advice," "Clark Gable," "Pralines & Dick," and "Wake, Wait, Repeat," and they did a series of very fun covers in the middle, including Paint It Black's "Womb Envy" (which they also recorded for Can't Complain), Minor Threat's "I Don't Wanna Hear It" (in the ska-punk style of The Suicide Machines' version), and Operation Ivy's "Knowledge." For "Ignorance Is Bliss," JER made a surprise appearance to play the trombone solo. Like JER, Kill Lincoln singer/guitarist Mike Sosinski also took the time to point out the band's staunchly anti-racist, anti-sexist, anti-homophobic, anti-transphobic (and anti-hating-ska!) stances, and the frequent reinforcement of these sentiments really added to the fact that this was a positive, accepting environment where you could let loose and have fun without judgement.

All three bands also mentioned during their sets how long they've been at it without many people noticing or caring, and how genuinely amazed and grateful they were to be playing to such a large, lively crowd all these years later, and in a hipster epicenter like Brooklyn no less. Their connections run deep -- JER mentioned booking The Best of the Worst in their backyard a decade ago -- and this show served as a constant reminder that if you think this whole ska thing blew up overnight, it definitely did not. It also is only getting bigger and better, with more sure-to-be-great shows and records on the horizon. If you're still hating on ska, get yourself to one of these gigs. The energy in the room is undeniable.

If you haven't picked up JER's album yet, our exclusive yellow vinyl variant is still available, and you can also get it bundled with other Bad Time albums (and/or Jeff Rosenstock's SKA DREAM) here. For even more ska vinyl, head here.

Photos of the show by Amanda Hatfield continue below...

Kill Lincoln @ Saint Vitus Bar - 6/8/22 Setlist (via)
Used Up
Confession Obsession
I'm Getting Too Old for This Shit
Figure It Out, Summer Sanders
Good Riddance to Good Advice
Ignorance is Bliss
Womb Envy (Paint It Black cover)
I Don't Wanna Hear It (Minor Threat cover)
Knowledge (Operation Ivy cover)
Pralines & Dick
Can't Complain
Wake, Wait, Repeat
Clark Gable

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