SkaWars 2014 – at Plaza de la Raza – Los Angeles, CA

February 8, 2014

SkaWars 2014 - at Plaza de la Raza - Los Angeles, CA - February 8, 2014 With the 2014 SkaWars festival now in the books we take a moment to look back at all the festivities and excitement, that quite possibly made it the best SkaWars to date.

Hosted at the serene Lincoln Park in Los Angeles, SkaWars once again welcomed its loyal legion of fans for another day of non-stop music. Boasting over 25 bands in one day, the action and volume was fast paced and unrelenting from when the doors opened up until the last magnificent band of the evening. As Lincoln Park and its beautiful landscape made for a gorgeous and stunning backdrop, the venue itself was one of beauty and culture. Spacious enough to host the SkaWars contingency and then some, with ample room for vendors, merchandisers and a high vaulted stage making for excellent acoustics and a sense of grandeur not seen before with other SkaWars stages.

SkaWars 2014 - at Plaza de la Raza - Los Angeles, CA - February 8, 2014

The set times, where as one would expect from a SkaWars bill: Short and Overlapping. Not necessarily a bad thing as this played perfectly into the banner headline of “Ska WARS” as a sense of bring your ‘A-Game’ hung over the stage throughout the day. Each band bringing something intense and finely honed, like a samurai’s sword or Jedi Knights Light Saber, no Jedi Mind Tricks needed, just water and more music. With Skank pits slamming from just after noon to just after midnight the ones causing the entire ruckus were as follows:

SkaWars 2014 - at Plaza de la Raza - Los Angeles, CA - February 8, 2014


East Side Agents           Libertadorers

SkaKillnAnthem           Paranoias

Mano Sucio                    The Steady 45’s

L.A. Crooks                     2 Tone Lizard kings

23 Skunks                       Dub 8

A La Brava                      Matamoska

HappyDrunk Cartel     Profesor Galactico

Ekolekua                         Mafia Rusa

LosKungFuMonkeys   RedStore Bums

Café Con Tequila          The Toasters

Hijos Del Sol                  La Resistencia

Dispenska                      Viernes 13

Rudo Movimiento       Chencha Berrinches

                                          The Delirians


As science and its inability to clone have shown us, we can’t be in two places at once—yet. So with that being said let us focus on the acts that truly set the bar for the evening and provided a few knock out blows along the way. The fury came early in the day as bands on both stages introduced fans to a taste of what they could come to expect from then on out. East Side Agents, Libertadores and The Paranoias all provided early excitement in their own right.

SkaWars 2014 - at Plaza de la Raza - Los Angeles, CA - February 8, 2014

As Libertadores and Paranoias both brought a popular and high-energy brand of Skacore, as The East Side Agents brought something a little bit different in their approach to ska, even a surprising and really well done version of a popular Save Ferris tune. East Side Agents should see their spot on coming SkaWars lineups rise, as their notoriety should rise with it. 

SkaWars 2014 - at Plaza de la Raza - Los Angeles, CA - February 8, 2014

With L.A. Crooks and 23 Skunks holding down a respectable and high-energy set and pit, one of the bigger Local draws was gearing up for their set on the Main Stage. The Steady 45’s have worked diligently to put themselves near the top in the local scene alongside recording and banner mates The Delirians and Pachamama, all of whom represent the Steady Rock Groove Factory out of Whittier. As the weeks lead up to SkaWars a noticeable addition was being talked about all over social media, as The Steady 45’s have earned the respect of artists from Jamaica and

SkaWars 2014 - at Plaza de la Raza - Los Angeles, CA - February 8, 2014

LA’s 90’s golden revival age. The word was out “bring your best traditional dance moves” and boy did the kids ever. Playing original yet firmly entrenched in tradition Ska & rock steady, The Steady 45’s manage to do something only seen maybe a spattering of times at a skacore show let alone SkaWars. Bringing the skank pit to a stand still as young fans danced around their bags and sweaters in a circle facing one another in true traditional fashion, dating back to generations of 60’s Jamaican dancehalls and Los Angeles’s Ska/Reggae Club scene. The evolution of the young Los Angeles Ska enthusiast was never more on display as it shows: sometimes you have to go back to the past to get to the future of LA Ska and Rock steady.

SkaWars 2014 - at Plaza de la Raza - Los Angeles, CA - February 8, 2014

As is commonplace with a SkaWars Event, migration from one stage to the other is expected, even at times the standard. But with such a heavy bill it seemed the front row of the main stage was locked down for a solid chunk of the day. As Dub8 and their reggae roots synergy seemed to pleasantly surprise a lot of the younger fans not to familiar with roots or reggae. But one thing most music lovers are familiar with is The Doors as Dub8 threw a unseen uppercut to the ears of all in attendance with their masterfully done reggae rendition of the Doors ‘Five to one’ truly something to behold as LA’s older reggae circuit has come to expect from Dub8.

SkaWars 2014 - at Plaza de la Raza - Los Angeles, CA - February 8, 2014

Now we reach the heaviest of hitters in the LA Skacore scene, Matamoska, Profesor Galactico, Mafia Rusa, and Red Store Bums.

SkaWars 2014 - at Plaza de la Raza - Los Angeles, CA - February 8, 2014

All have seen the biggest push from Evokore (aside from La Resistencia and Viernes 13) and rightly so. These young yet seasoned top tier acts have manage to take the local scene by the jugular and have no intentions of letting go anytime soon. Only further demonstrated by the flood of upcoming new releases to see national audiences via iTunes and other online shopping formats, Mafia Rusa and Matamoska to name just a few. As they gear up for new music to hit shelves one can only assume it can harness the energy that their live acts have shown for sometime. In the past this journalist has referred to Mafia Rusa’s stage presence as a kin to “Bats out of hell”. There is no barricade, amp, drum riser or anything else that these finely tunes young musicians will not climb and climb over all the while still performing in perfect harmony. As they perform fan favorite after one another drawing HUGE pits for ‘No Mercy For The Rude’ ‘

SkaWars 2014 - at Plaza de la Raza - Los Angeles, CA - February 8, 2014

The Zed Word’ and ‘Party Squad’ their sets are truly that, a party. On the flipside to their beautiful recklessness is Matamoska’s high energy and BIG BALLS! Within the first couple seconds of Matamoska’s set you knew what you were in store for, sheer craziness and fun, as crowd surfing and stage diving complimented their already ape shit music and charisma even causing one fan to pass out. ‘Dia de los Muertos’ ‘Heroes with Beards’ ‘Flan’ and ‘Beer Goggles’ all kept the same energy and rhythm we soon hope to see on their newest cd release in April at The Whiskey A GoGo. 

SkaWars 2014 - at Plaza de la Raza - Los Angeles, CA - February 8, 2014

As the Toasters, La Resistencia and Viernes 13 comprised the “Early Bed Time’ headline acts, the show had been announced to be a sell out as those on the inside rejoiced in unison. Fans of Skacore No doubt are familiar with one of the true third-wave pioneering act from New York, Buck and The Toasters. Performing their already world renowned songs to another generation of appreciative and loyal skacore fans they touched on everything you could expect to hear Buck belt out with his trademark vocals. ‘Talk is Cheap’ ‘Two Tone Army’ ‘Weekend in LA’ ‘Pirate Radio’ and ‘Thrill me Up’ sprinkled their short yet compact set leaving none with the feeling of missing out as these have proven to be crowd favorites over the decades.

SkaWars 2014 - at Plaza de la Raza - Los Angeles, CA - February 8, 2014

With La Resistencia and Viernes 13 being the dual-wielding acts most in the skacore scene would be familiar with, they easily garnered the largest pits and biggest ovations of the night and rightly so, they play and promote enough to have such a loyal following, unfortunately since photographers were barred from the surrounding stage for their two sets (for in house documentation) you’ll have to take my word for it. But don’t fret, as La Resistencia has two awesome shows coming up on March 1st at the Airliner and April 6th with Matamoska and Mafia Rusa at The Whiskey A GoGo.

For those whose Skacore fix was near insatiable they had veterans Chencha Berrinches to finish them off for the evening, coming out to a haunting intro and cheers of “Chencha, Chencha” they surely did not disappoint, the short yet devilishly wonderful set was just what was needed to maintain and carry over the already climactic energy for the two bands to follow.

SkaWars 2014 - at Plaza de la Raza - Los Angeles, CA - February 8, 2014

Representing the Steady Rock Groove Factory, The Delirians and Pachamama bring two different yet pivotal styles to Los Angeles and The end of SkaWars 2014. As those with early bed times and those just too pooped out to hang, found out later Pachamama and The Delirians brought one of the more professionally crafted sounds to SkaWars.

SkaWars 2014 - at Plaza de la Raza - Los Angeles, CA - February 8, 2014

With their popular roots and socially conscientious lyrics, Pachamama encompass more than just musicianship, they convey a message most skacore lovers are sadly missing, in that they bring true social unity and societies ailments to the forefront. Always thought provoking and feet moving Pachamama’s sound opens more than ears, it opens the eyes and mind to the world around you in true roots fashion others have seem to have forgotten plus with their tune ‘Rude boy’ it opened up the pit as well, even having a live artist paint throughout the set. As the popularity of traditional music in Los Angeles has become more and more of a sight along club marques, the Delirians have played one of the larger roles in today’s resurgence. No Strangers to the SkaWars stage, The Delirians prove you don’t need to growl or scream to cause a dance floor shakedown. Measured in their approach, the sound is clean and at the highest caliber.

SkaWars 2014 - at Plaza de la Raza - Los Angeles, CA - February 8, 2014

These young men have performed with and for countless Jamaican legends past and present, they’ve packed numerous local clubs, Hollywood venues and even performed to an estimated 40,000 people on the pier with Jimmy Cliff just last year. Skawars faithful love these young men from East Los’ as their style is rooted in 60s tradition yet uniquely all their own. Skawars was truly one for the books this year, with an even card from beginning to end, all the artists had to leave home feeling like champs and counting down the days till the next throw down.

 More photos of the show can be seen HERE       

-Gio Van Dam-
Big Wheel Staff Reporter



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