Fishlock Fridays #2 – UK Ska is Dead, Long Live UK Ska

“Now I love the beat but I need to shout” – Random Hand

I love ska punk music, and if anything without it I wouldn’t have ended up part of a DIY scene: the first show I ever put on was Faintest Idea and Captain Accident, and on Saturday I am putting on the mighty JB Conspiracy who have been going for over a decade now (if you count the Duff Muffin days too). Yet I often find myself in certain scenes where nobody likes ska, or loved it back in the heyday of Capdown and King Prawn but will say that ska is now dead. Now, lots of my favourite UK ska bands are splitting up; Claypigeon officially said the other day that their December 20th show at the Camden Underworld will be their final, Dirty Revolution last month played their final show ever in Cardiff and it feels like the likes of Tyrannosaurus Alan and Random Hand are playing dramatically less in the last year. Maybe it’s finally time to admit ska is dead.

But no, most people who say ska is dead are normally talking about the early 2000’s popularity, where [SPUNGE] would be played on Kerrang and King Prawn was featured in the NME. Many miss those days, but do you really need to? Capdown are back playing some shows this month, people actually willingly went to Birmingham just for the chance to see Farse – and King Prawn have been threatening to release a new album. Does this mean ska is coming back? Or did we really have to wait for all the classics to start reforming before we could proclaim that ska is well and truly not dead?

There has been some success from our underground scene in the last few years too, just look at how ridiculously massive The Skints got in a ridiculously fast time.

And also, none of us really give a fuck what’s covered by Kerrang and NME anymore, ska has always had an underground fan base and that fan base isn’t dead yet, and that is what keeps ska alive – aside from the obvious reunion shows. As long as fans bother to watch the newer ska bands at shows rather than smoking outside or attaching themselves to the bar, ska can still stay alive. There are plenty of new ska punk bands emerging on a underground DIY scene – in my hometown area a neat little scene has formed with bands such as Bandits, Ill Gotten Gains and Rail-27 constantly playing shows and in London, Be Sharp Promotions have been pushing great bands such as The Pisdicables and Call Me Malcolm. Meanwhile, up north in Liverpool a young teenage band Bolshy are showing up all the other bands.

When supplied with the right headliner, these bands can have crowds formed for them; if the bands are good enough people will dance, we just have to positively talk about them and encourage them develop into becoming the best bands they possibly can be. Ska doesn’t have to die, and it never fully will. Some promoters, such as Be Sharp have got it down to a point where they can sell out the New Cross Inn in London with a ska all dayer with not too many very well-known names.

I mourn the loss of lots of my favourites who have called it a day and will miss seeing them live and having the honour of putting them on, but maybe ska isn’t dead, Maybe it’s just time for some new bands to take the headliner slots. Ska bands will always keep forming; you just have to seek them out.


Bandits – Rowdy (

Geistfight – The Fine Line (

Crinkle Cuts – Choice (

Ghouls – London’s Burning (

Ill Gotten Gains – Mandy & Charlie (

Call Me Malcolm – John Fledmann’s Going to Kill Me (

Bolshy – Counting Fucks (

Princess Diana and the Tunnel Smashers – Wudnt Do It Your Way (

Subversive Fire – Three Little Piggies (

Bandit The Panther – Landing the Sleep Attack (

Rail-27 – Prospects (

The Pisdicables – Rainy Day (

Will Tun and the Wasters & MC Amalgam – Red Is Not Dead (

Posted in Features, Spotlight and tagged , , .
Chris Fishlock

Chris Fishlock

Punk rock enabler at Fishlock Promotions & Seeing Your Scene sub-editor.


  1. You’re right about the right headliners being supported by the right local bands – the problem is that people these days only seem to turn up for the headliners. Here is a novel idea – Headliner kicks off at say, 10pm? Offer cheaper entry to those that arrive before 9. The people who want to see the headliner will see them for £5, £8 or £10 BUT the offer of more bands for less money will hopefully entice people in, whether they’re aware they’re actually getting a deal or not. The small bands need all the support they can get to re-energise a scene that (luckily) refuses to die and you’re the kind of person that can do a lot to help it happen!

  2. If you look at The Attic Bar model of gigs in Bristol they always do it free before half 9 and the place is fucking rammed, and people watch support bands. But then again it is a massive venue in Stokes Croft that has big festival bands every weekend….

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