On Safari With… 2 was one of my first colored records as a Senior in high school. Having seen The Skolars a few months before, the bright yellow wax, and the $3.25 price sticker, grabbed by eye, and it wasn’t until a few years ago while on a birthday record run that I discovered the On Safari With… red vinyl older sibling. Four tracks each, these limited runs (of 1000 each) are a great, albeit quick, representation of 3rd wave ska that was strikingly popular during the mid-late 90s. Beat Happy! Music, the distribution label, doesn’t seem to have pressed any other records, and only made two various artist CDs through 1999 before closing shop. It’s a shame, because both of these records are essential listening material.
Telegraph was the opening act… a few bright-eyed months after they’d manifested themselves from their previous moniker, The Skolars. Same band, new name. I’m going to say it was a Friday night. Cold. Wisconsin winter cold. There was a line. And a $5 cover.
It may have been the bullhorn glued between the microphone and lead singer Billy Spunke’s face, but the invitation from a now deceased friend to attend this particular show seems to strike a chord much louder now, than it did then… and at the time, I could hardly hear myself breathe.
The Blue Meanies, the ska-revivalist-post-hardcore bastions of late nineties yesteryear are no more, but the flame that fuels their legend will forever shine, if only within the pages of nostalgia. I miss my friend, and if he were here today, I’d thank him for introducing me to this astonishing band.