The Mad Caddies @ Red 7 (04.11.14)

Mad CaddiesThere are many reasons why bands tend to take a hiatus. Reasons such as conflict within the group, lack of creativity, and loss of direction. Sometimes life just gets in the way of a music career, but it’s not a forced or unwelcome break; it’s a much more positive experience. Such is the story of the Santa Barbara based septet, The Mad Caddies, who graced a stage in Austin at Red 7 for the first time since 2006.

The last we heard from the Caddies (proper) was in 2007 with the release of the then ambitious Keep It Going. A long tour followed (or in Austin’s case, preceded) the release, but quickly after the buzz wore off, The Caddies went their separate ways to explore their own side-projects, schooling, or just to enjoy a “quieter” lifestyle. A compilation album was released to appease the label, but eventually the band was ready for more fulfilling projects.

Grumblings that an album from the once pseudo-retired group was being conceived was a shock to many, including myself, but it’s always a welcome treat. The Caddies have a knack for pumping out raucous live shows and solid dub inspired ska albums and I promised myself that anytime I get the opportunity, I will be in attendance. On last Friday, I got my latest chance to enjoy a little bit of nostalgia along with the promise of new material.

Opening the evening’s festivities was the local act Young Costello who surprised me with their amount of fans singing along to every word to every song. You don’t often see that in an opener and I see really great things for them long-term. Opening for the Slackers last week and the Caddies this week has surely raised their stock to great level and I would highly recommend checking them out if you get the chance. They are a high energy shot to the nervous system in the best way possible.

The second act for the evening, Mrs. Skanotto, felt like a bit of a miss. The band was tight and lively, but the vocals felt mismatched to the occasion. They certainly had their good moments when the vocals took a subtler approach to the succinct instrumentals, but when the vocals reached their peak, they felt too ‘screamo’ for my liking. I would have liked to see Young Costello in this extended time slot.

Once the Caddies made their way on stage, things changed in a hurry. A wave of adrenaline hit the audience instantly. They began their set with a new track ‘Shot In the Dark’, which got the crowd grooving in no time. It’s a good sign when you can shoot out of the gate with a new song and people are instantly receptive to it. Overall they debuted 3 new tracks from their new LP, ‘Brand New Scar’ and ‘Down and Out’. The new album drops in May on Fat Wreck Chords. In the midst of polishing their new materials was a smorgasbord of ‘recent’ tracks from 2007’s Keep It Going, including ‘Backyard’, ‘Without You’, ‘Coyote’ amongst others, including ‘Tired Bones’ being one of my favorites of the evening, a vicious ear-drum shattering rock anthem with roller coaster-esque horn interludes. This is Caddies at their best, in my opinion. When people emerge from the pit, sweat-drenched and bleeding faces, that’s when you know what you came to see.

2003’s Just One More was the next most re-visited album, with ‘Contraband’, ‘Leavin’’ and the Late-night ballad ‘Drinking For 11’ to round out the vibe “for the ladies”. However, the ever-insatiable crowd wanted more and wanted to dig deeper into the discography. Attaching song-requests to $20 and $10 bills, the band delivered, whilst returning all the ‘tips’ from the crowd with their own request to spend it at the merch table. A reasonable request.   Tracks from Rock the Plank, Duck and Cover, and even ’97’s Quality Soft Core followed including crowd-pleasers in ‘Monkeys’, the pirate-themed ‘Weird Beard’, and ending with the celebratory drinking polka, ‘All American Badass’ to truly end the show in style.

When it comes to nostalgia acts, whether it’s The Cure, Less Than Jake, or even Neutral Milk Hotel, many audiences see these touring acts to remember a time long ago, maybe forgotten. Often these bands haven’t made a piece of new material in decades and to be honest, many wouldn’t want to hear it anyway if they did. It was different on Friday as you got the sense that the 7 year break did the band wonders. On Friday, as a group they all showed a renewed sense of joy in the process of creation, lively interaction with an always wild crowd, and a sincere love for the music, both new and old. In short, it was trademark Caddies.

Reviewers’ Note: As is the usual tradition with my reviews, I like to sketch the acts, but unfortunately it’s difficult to sketch when you are too busy skanking. My apologies for the lack of visual stimulation. Blame the Caddies for distracting me.

 Set List:  Shot In the Dark*, Backyard, Leavin’, Without You, Mary Melody, Lay Your Head Down, State of Mind, Down and Out*, Monkeys, Weird Beard, Dub Interlude, Brand New Scar, Coyote, Tired Bones, Road Rash, Drinking For 11, Contraband, No Way Out, No Hope, Falling Down, Distress, Encore: Belltower, I’m So Alone, All American Badass
*New Song from Unleased Album ‘Dirty Rice’


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