Pompano Beach Amphitheater • August 5, 1998
How a band has the strength and determination to go on after MTV calls them the “Hanson of Ska,” I have no idea. But I do have to give the Gadjits a lot more credit than just that. They’re about as young as you can get (the average age in the band being 17), they write incredibly catchy ska songs without the use of a horn section, they made it on the Warped Tour, and they were one of the few bands on the bill I was really excited to see. So at 1:15 PM, taking to the Amphitheater stage were four kids that very well could have been standing next to me during another set. Then they walked back offstage. Technical problems. Two minutes later, the Gadjits re-emerged, greeted the small but enthusiastic crowd, and opened with “Tell Yourself” off their album, At Ease. It was immediately apparent that the band seems to have a problem bringing the smooth and flowing sound that they create on their album to the stage. It’s not to say that they sounded bad, per say, but it was definitely an unwelcome difference. The majority of their set came from their album, but they did bring out a few surprises like two new tunes (one of them with a country tint to it) and a cover of Toots and the Maytals’ “54-46.” (And a surprise came to keyboardist Hilary Allen, when her tie-on shirt came untied and almost fell off!) They wrapped up their set the way they wrap up their album, with the incredibly catchy and energetic “Beautiful Girl,” with singer/guitarist Brandon Phillips skipping over the second verse for some reason or another. I couldn’t say the Gadjits are a bad live band, but they do fail to convey the feel they had in the studio to the stage. Still, the Warped Tour would have been much less entertaining without them.