REVIEW: The Interrupters at Turner Hall Ballroom

Let’s face it, the landscape of ska as a genre is currently fairly bleak; In addition to classic acts from the second wave of ska in the 80’s, there are essentially two or three contemporary bands that have been at the top of the genre since the mid-2000s. While we all know Reel Big Fish and Less Than Jake, on Tuesday night at Turner Hall Ballroom, The Interrupters made a case to be the next very big name at the top of ska.

Openers Masked Intruder and Rat Boy set the tone for the evening well, with their own brands of punk energy. Masked Intruder are Madison natives, and have a strong following locally, making their sort-of homecoming set feel extra special. Flanked by Officer Bradford, the band’s criminals-yet-hopeless romantics shtick never seems to wear old, as they played tracks from their debut projects all the way up to the recently released “III” without holding anything back.

The band is no stranger to Milwaukee, having played the Vans Warped Tour twice previously. The band seemed genuinely proud though, as this was their first headlining show in the city, and a very full Turner Hall Ballroom greeted the band with open arms. The band addressed the stage soundtracked by The Specials’ hit “Ghost Town”, complete with faux candles on stage, and from that point forward, you would have never known that it was a Tuesday night in Milwaukee.

While some acts have their own spin on ska, or a more punk edge, The Interrupters are a true tribute to the second wave sound, with a set list of bouncy, catchy songs from their latest album, “Fight The Good Fight”. You got the feeling that the band, now in its eighth year together, had worked hard to get to the point of being a headliner (because they have), and Tuesday night felt like a celebration of their newfound status. Early set tracks like “Take Back The Power” and “She Got Arrested” were met with joyous singalongs from the crowd, and there was no shortage of people moving and skanking throughout the ballroom floor.

The band is well polished as a touring act, with plenty of showmanship to go with their 20-plus song show. Guitarist Kevin Bivona teased a cover of a “famous Bay Area band” before ripping into segments of Metallica’s “Enter Sandman”, NOFX’s “Linoleum”, and Green Day’s “When I Come Around”, ultimately landing on a mashup of Rancid’s “Time Bomb” and Operation Ivy’s “Sound System”. Later in the night, Bivona would also bust out a rendition of “Freebird” for a few minutes, before heading into the encore.

As a frontwoman, Aimee Interrupter is a ball of energy. She bounced from side to side of the Turner Hall stage, and danced frantically along with her brothers throughout the duration of the set. She also fearlessly would make her way into the crowd multiple times, and stand dominant over the crowd on stage boxes for much of the show. Interrupter, along with the other Bivonas, made it very clear that they knew how to command a crowd.

While The Interrupters are no stranger to the road at this point, they are hitting their stride as a touring act just as they are reaching newfound levels of popularity. If ska is going to make a comeback, its leaders are ready and waiting to be the next name at the top of the genre, and The Interrupters showed that as a band, and family, on Tuesday night.

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