I really like Pimpbot, as well. In fact, the video you linked to is shot mostly at my house and at my monthly ska and reggae club (www.bluebeatdc.com).
Anyhow, for me, the best live ska/rocksteady/reggae band was, is and will always be Hepcat. Growing up in So Cal, I must have seen them 20 + times. If you've never seen them, then you just don't know.
Thomas Stack said:
The best band I've seen live would have to be Pimpbot out of Honolulu, HI. They're not huge outside of the Honolulu area, but they have really great energy on stage and interact well with the audience. They're also just great guys to hang out with after a show. Here's some footage from a recent East Coast tour: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cm4POVKaG20 Also, check out their Facebook page @ http://www.facebook.com/PIMPBOT
In 15+ years of going to shows, lots of different shows have seemed to become lost memories or blended into "one big show" where maybe I can't remember the band or the venue. Sometimes I'll catch a vid clip on youtube and awesome memories come flooding back. Some of the particular bands/shows that still standout from the others include:
Having seen the Pilfers literally dozens of times, it's hard to pin down the one "best" show but a particular one that stands out in my memory was at Coney Island High (perhaps during the Moon/Asian "Independents Day" tour in 98?). It was an early show and the Pilfers were the last band on. The place was packed and their set went on-and-on for seemingly ever. There was another show coming up and the fans queued up outside were getting unruly and club management was getting pissed. First houselights came up, then mics were cut, but Coolie just kept on going. There could have been a riot at any second but it was just a good old fashion ska-punk show. Bitter sweet show for me though because I found out there that earlier that day (week?) that Stylee had broken up.
There aren't many shows that I can remember any more as clearly as this one. It was September 8, 2001. Of the dozens of times I've seen the Toaster, the show most cemented in my mind, and to-date my favorite Toasters show, was their 20th Anniversary show. I believe it would fittingly end up being the final ska show at the Wetlands Preserve as the club was slated to close in a couple weeks but they were forced to close even earlier due to 9/11 happening three days later just a few blocks downtown. This was the only time I got to see the Unity Two, as well as Coolie Ranx, onstage with the Toasters. I think the Scofflaws opened.
I was a total dork for Metro Stylee. They were my fav band from 97-98 era NYC ska scene. My favorite show memories seeing them live were once during CMJ (at Mercury Lounge? Maybe Lion's Den?) when they opened for Skavoovie. They were on point that night and it was just a night that lives on for me. Trish's vocals were just right. Andy Stylee was on fire. Mike, Eroc, Jane all were just so tight. Another great show I saw them play was when Skully from Step Lively filled in on drums at some old lounge bar in Massapequa. All songs were played double speed and they played their set 2x thru. It was like a ska punk version of Stylee.
Their shows c.97-99 on Long Island. Their shows at Deja & Da Funky Phish stand out in my memory best. One of my favorites was them opening for Allstonians right after Xmas in 97 at Da Funky. I don't think "Before You Knew Better" had even been released yet. Tiny bar with a band that you could tell was about to become "the next big thing" from the moment of the first note of Gary's trumpet.
Skavoovie & the Epitones
Skavoovie was always a great band to see live. A ton of guys up on stage. Horns, dancing, & total fun at all times. Best show I remember was at the Hibernian Hall in Babylon, NY. Maybe summer of 98 or 99? It was like a hundred degrees outside. I think their bus broke down and they were late. It was downright sweltering in there and one-by-one the band stripped down to their skivvies. Laughter ensued & old Irish folks running the hall flipped out. There was then a massive thunderstorm and the parking lot flooded out. Just a good time all around.
Spring Heeled Jack
Some of their old shows, particularly up in New Haven at the height of "Skannecticut", were truly epic. Always great on stage. Always tight. Their 1st reunion show played in memory of Dave at Toad's Place was particularly memorable. Even without Chris Rhodes playing, the show just had a magic quality to it. The MMB were playing Letterman that night and they had it up on the bigscreen with Chris playing with them. Last year's gigs brought me back to that time & place and lots of show memories.
Sometimes it wasn't the particular band but the venue that I remember most. A particular that comes to mind was the aforementioned Da Funky Phish in Bay Shore, NY. A dive of a place across the street from the train station on Union Boulevard that consistently pulled in some of the country's best ska bands in the late-90s. Memorable bands I saw play "Ska Tuesdays" there included the Slackers, Pilfers, Skoidats, Scofflaws, Spider Nick & the Maddogs, Checkered Cabs, Allstonians, Edna's Goldfish, Step Lively, and perhaps even the Pietasters & Toasters. The barmaids always kept your glass full and Craig, the larger-than-life owner, chomped a stogie and pronounced the word ska "sk-ahhh" in a way that you can never forget.
Thanks for this thread. It was good to write some of this stuff down. I wish I had kept a show journal from back-in-the-day so I could pass these memories on to my kids and remember them when I'm old and gray.
Another band I wanted to add to this post is Kemuri. The only time I can recall seeing them live was at Ska Against Racism show at Roseland in April, 98. Of the epic live bands to play that show (Toasters, LTJ, Mustard Plug, Pilfers, Edna's) Kemuri's brief set stands out. They were absolutely perfect in every respect. Incredible energy and stage presence. They were one of the earlier acts on that afternoon but they had the sold out place in awe. Hardly anyone there had heard of them or seen them before, but everyone was looking at each other saying "are these guys real" or "is this happening". They were that good.