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The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Donned in shirts, ties, ska outfit Mustard Plug satisfies

On Saturday night, a few brave fans ventured out into the
snow to see six-piece shirt-and-tie-wearing ska band Mustard Plug. The
eccentricity of the music was reflected not only by the band's antics but also
by the crowd's attire; a diverse amalgamation of punk rock duds and tie-dye
filled the room. The sparse but energized crowd danced their way through
Mustard Plug's short 40 minute set, which featured several new songs, as well
as some covers and older fan favorites. Opening acts included Illinois-based
pop-punk jokesters Plunket, who played their new single, "Baby Steps," and
discussed the merits of MySpace and laser discs at great length.

The free show was held at Union South's Club 770, a small
venue with an urban coffee shop feel. The room's intimacy allowed for much
interaction between the bands and the crowd. Too much intimacy, however, proved
to be a disturbance as one rogue crowd member repeatedly jumped on the stage,
disrupting the band members and toppling mic stands.

Hailing from Grand
Rapids, Mich.,
Mustard Plug has been touring and recording for more than 15 years. As
evidenced by Saturday's show, they have amassed an extremely loyal and
enthusiastic fanbase. The troupe is currently touring in support of their sixth
studio album, In Black and White, released earlier this fall. Their songs are short
in length and feature comical lyrics and explosive melodies, showcasing the
carefree essence of ska.

On Saturday night, Mustard Plug warmed up themselves and the
crowd with LCD Soundsystem's "Daft Punk Is Playing At My House," and kicked off
the set with "Time to Wake Up," a song from their new album. Speak-singing,
whirling horn parts and a fast-paced bass groove showed fans how the Plug's
sound has matured over the years.

Next was a happy-sounding and bright song, "Lolita." Songs with
a prominently-featured horn section were the most enjoyable of the set, while
some of the heavier songs sounded muddy. In their defense, however, the band
did complain about "technical difficulties," exclaiming that "God doesn't want
us to play in Madison — She hates it when we play here."

"Hit Me! Hit Me!" used heavily-accented offbeats in the horn
section and even heavier percussion, and was followed by the band's 1998
single, "You." Punchy power chords spiced up the bizarrely titled, "Real Rat


Vocalist Dave Kirchgessner complained several times about
the weather and how they had to push their tour bus in the snow, though these
jokes were not very well-received by the crowd; doesn't it snow just as much in

Several more songs, including "Skank By Numbers" and "Not
Enough," preceded a riotous ska-punk rendition of Verve Pipe's "The Freshmen."
The band broke out the gang vocals as a mosh pit formed on the dance floor.
"Beer Song" ended the set, because, according to Mustard Plug, "Wisconsin never
runs out of beer." For an encore they performed "Brain On Ska," a short,
thrashing tune reminiscient of fellow third-wave ska rockers Reel Big Fish.

These songs clearly make fans want to get up and dance — but
not always well. Perhaps the most amusing aspect of the event was watching the
crowd's failed attempts at stealth dance moves. Skanking, the dance move
generally associated with the genre of ska, requires some serious rhythm on the
part of the dancer.

The greatest complaint about the show was that the
headliner's set was barely 40 minutes long. Though their songs are shorter than
most, it is safe to assume that a band who has been around for 16 years could
offer up at least an hour of music. Regardless of its length, however, the set
made for a solid and entertaining night of ska. Mustard Plug was just ready to
party with some Wisconsonites.

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