Bedouin Soundclash @ Knitting Factory, 2/06/08

Photos by Laura
Bedouin Soundclash @ Knitting Factory, 2/06/06

Bedouin Soundclash headlined a show at the Knitting Factory on Wednesday that also featured Westbound Train and Beat Union of neverending Ska revival scene.

I arrived too late to see Beat Union from the UK, but was nevertheless impressed by their neck tattoos, a bunch of ’ard lads, for sure. Westbound Train were a tight ska nostalgia act from Boston (Southie, no doubt) led by a frontman with Sam Cooke gospel steez… the all-ages crowd was lovin’ it.

We were there for the main event, Bedouin Soundclash, a classic three piece rocksteady outfit from my home town Toronto. Like so many of the bands these days they’re a studied mish-mash of the bands from a given genre, place and time. If the Strokes reworked the late 70’s Bowery punk sound (as mythologized by by Legs McNeil) into catchy pop songs, then Bedouin Soundclash does something similar with the early ’80’s and Portobello Road in London’s Notting Hill district. Before Hugh Grant made Notting Hill a household name punching property markets through the roof, it’d been home to a large Caribbean population since the 1950s. Those early Thatcher years saw a lot of working class activism in pop culture that pulled people together across racial lines. This helped bring about the two-tone ska scene that’s still going strong today –at least as a dress code. Unlike the night’s opening acts, however, which drew more directly from 2nd wave ska bands like the Specials, Bedouin Soundclash’s lineage seems to come down more from British new-wave reggae sounds as typified by the likes of Culture Club. A little more laid back in the beat, and a little less testosterone-driven, the band nevertheless rocks out. The vocalist and guitarist Jay Malinowski has a gruff delivery that’s more than a little reminiscent of Frederick “Toots” Hibbert, from Toots and the Maytals, and they look hot too, like a Combat Rock era Clash… “Don’t push us when we’re hot!”