(photo from Oreskaband.com)

So it happened: That magical, transportive moment of which I have heard rumors…. the moment when you discover a band at South By Southwest that you have never before heard anyone mention, write about, whisper about, blog about…. ever. It's a fresh, new-to-you baby-band experience, and it is a moment glistening with the dew of an early summer's early morn.

I was in my hotel room, and I heard a rock & roll band, a punk band with a tight drummer and a strong but girlish voice leading it all. They were tight and fast and somewhat hooky, and I could tell they were putting on a show because the crowd was a-shouting and a-cheering right proper.

I grabbed my shit and was out the door and oh my, so fast, I was witnessing the Oreska band: six badass Japanese girls playing super-poppy ska-style punk — but really, just good rock & roll — intensely, without an ounce of coyness or the we-suck-but-we're-hot nonsense you get with some girl-bands. These girls were tight and fast and loud and hard, and also springy and light. Ska is much, much more difficult to play properly than I think most people realize, and they did. A big-ass trombone, a huge sax, trumpet, all of them singing together with such joy and sweat and fun, it kinda made me all misty. I remember what it was like when bands didn't think they were cool at all, and didn't have to act cool — they just were cool. With no buzz, and no hype, and no crapola.

They looked cool, too, wearing boarding school uniforms, complete with skinny black ties and rad shags.

The trombonist was sort of the leader, and she addressed the crowd between songs in extremely broken English, with her hand on her heart: “I am… amazing. No — You are amazing. I… I love you.”

I thought she'd start crying a little bit, too. Such joy. I really never knew ska could be bubblegum, but it totally can.

Bubblegum lovers of the world, unite!


LA Weekly