NEW YORK — Ska passed away alone in its home on Tuesday night from complications related to the coronavirus. The genre was on its last legs and many proclaimed it dead years ago, but re-runs of Basketball and Streetlight Manifesto’s reunion were enough to keep the music going for a few years longer than it should have.
Many bands and forms of music are struggling to keep themselves afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some have gotten back in the studio to work on new albums, many have launched merch to generate revenue, while others have taken to Zoom to put on virtual shows for their fans to tune into. That concept ultimately proved to be the thing that did Ska in.
“Playing in a Ska band is already tough enough,” said Ryan Connelly, lead singer and frontman of The Three MuSKAteers. “Writing parts for every instrument, being able to hear yourself, and keeping everyone queued up on the same beat isn’t easy during a live show. So, trying to put on a show over webcam where guys are accidentally on mute, or have unstable internet so they lag in and out – have you ever heard a Ska song where the trumpet is consistently a half beat off because of WiFi? Not for me.”
White males across the country took to social media, Zoom, and Bandcamp to mourn Ska’s death last night, paying their respects to the music that defined their teenage years and articulated the feeling of, “going nowhere fast,” so eloquently. One trombone had this to say:
Matt Browner of Boston, Massachusetts, remarked, “You know that Earl Sweatshirt song where he says he was, ‘too black for the white kids but too white for the black?’ Well Ska was like music that was too white for the white kids, and for whatever reason, I found comfort in that.”
Others found solace in humor:
“I can’t believe this day is finally here. I always thought ska would die from an (up)stroke. #RIPSka” tweeted Cleveland local Jeremy Putanski.
“When this is all over and Ska is laid in its final resting place, I’m gonna really have to resist the urge to, ‘PICK IT UP! PICK IT UP! PICK IT UP!'” commented Bobby Shaughnessy.
While some fans responded to these jokes and accused them of being tone-deaf, many pointed out that there is no more appropriate way to honor a music famous for three minutes of blaring horn-lines.
Regardless of where you fall on the Ska appreciation spectrum, everyone can agree that any loss of life related to COVID-19 is a harsh and upsetting reminder of the unprecedented times in which we currently live. But, that doesn’t mean some good can’t come out of this sadness.
Third wave bands announced today that they would be putting on one last show to commemorate Ska when we’re able to convene and mourn as a community. Lead guitarist, vocals, and frontman of the largely successful (relatively) Reel Big Fish Aaron Barrett took to Facebook to announce the details of the concert.
“Look, I’ve dedicated my entire life to this music. I’ve been through something like three or four different iterations of band members, been playing the same songs since 1996, and just learned our new saxophonist’s name. Hell, I barely finished high school, there is no backup plan for me. So if Ska is going down, you better believe I’m not letting it go quietly into the night. I’m getting our friends together for one last bitchin’ show, doin’ what Ska music does best…COVERS!!!”
Despite only receiving six likes and three comments, Barrett outlined the lineup for the show called, “Covering the Covers,” in which Ska bands will play other Ska band’s cover songs. Less Than Jake will play Reel Big Fish’s version of, “Take on Me,” The Mighty Mighty Bosstones will attempt Save Ferris’ take on, “Come on Eileen,” Reel Big Fish will cover Less Than Jake’s rendition of, “Surrender,” and Streetlight Manifesto will headline, playing all of “Keasbey Nights,” in an attempt to reignite the debate of whether or not those songs count as covers.
We tip our checkered covered fedoras and light a cigarette inside for you, Ska. The impression that I get is that this will get worse before it’s all over, and even though everything sucks now, don’t let the bastards grind you down. Because although today it is you, somewhere in the between, we will fall together. Of that, I have no doubt.