Even with headliner complications, Ska, Punk, and Reggae lovers rejoiced at this years Skanking Reggae Fest, located at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. One day before the fest, it was announced that previous headliners Panteon Rococo and Antidoping would not be performing due to visa complications. Adrian Gonzalez, the festival’s founder and drummer for Raskahuele, elaborated on the complication, “Having started the process within four months [it is] rare not to get them. It would usually take around two months to get them in a normal request and three weeks in a express request… it’s the first time this has happened to them.” Gonzalez explained.
“People might say that we producers already knew about this, of course we knew, but what we didn’t know was that at the moment of requesting [the visas] if they were going to tell us yes or no.”
The old saying goes “the show must go on,” and it did so without a hitch. Filling in the fest’s empty spots were Maskatesta and Raskahuele, and they performed with the same amount of energy and enthusiasm as the rest of the bands.
All the way from Argentina, Los Caligaris, who built their reputation by performing in Chile, Peru, and Mexico, played one of the most energizing sets of the night. Their two tone sound was brought to life through blaring synchronized trumpets and an invigorated singer; their performance could make an introvert get up and dance.
The Slackers voiced their frustration with Rococo and Antidoping’s visa complications, shouting “we gotta be united, right?” before playing “Sooner or Later,” a song that was announced to be aimed at President Donald Trump. The lyrics state “I ain’t got no time for your violent little mind… you try to get me and you might get gat.” Their Reggae oriented sound turned the exuberant night around, preparing the audience for Dread Mar I’s Reggeton set.
Throughout the night, fans and artist shared a unity with one another. People in the crowd were not afraid to dance or “skank” alongside each other, especially in-between sets when DJ’s would play Cumbia.
Gonzalez talked about his ambition to create an identity for the ska genre and how it influenced the creation of this festival; his ambition ultimately became a reality, “In past years, the music (ska) was way deep in the genre of rock. If you went to iTunes and searched “rock,” that was the only way you could find ska… Now ska is a genre by itself, declared by the NAMM association [National Association of Music Merchants] last year,” Gonzalez said.
Skanking Reggae Fest was a success on all fronts despite the last minute lineup changes; it gives fans of the developing genre a chance to rejoice with one another outside of local DIY scenes.