This, Too, Are 2-Tone

The national Ska Against Racism tour isn't just a good deal for ska fans -- admission works out to roughly $2 per band -- it's also a good deal for the groups tabling the tour, including the Simon Wiesenthal Center's Museum of Tolerance and Artists for a Hate-Free America, which benefit from the exposure as well as from some of the tour proceeds. Despite grumbling in some quarters (Spin readers recently voted ska as the year's most unwelcome trend) ska is enjoying a healthy third wave, even while second-wave bands like Madness are making a comeback on the touring circuit. This tour is a natural extension of ska's racially united history; the "two-tone" or "2-tone" tag dates back to the black-and-white dress code and the reggae-punk intersection between Jamaicans and Brits in the second wave of ska's early years, in the late 1970s. New bands like Japan's Kemuri make ska sound fresh again, with a sproingy energy and clean, ringing brass, while the Blue Meanies blow a little hair back with the tease of a sweet rock-steady rhythm interrupted by a manic punk assault. Asian Man Records chief Mike "Bruce Lee" Park, who masterminded the tour, will represent Skankin' Pickle, who haven't played a ska show for nearly two years. Less Than Jake headline, The Toasters, MU330, and Five Iron Frenzy jump in, and every tour stop features a local opener -- here, it's Critical Mass, who kick off the show Sunday at 5 p.m. at the Maritime Hall, 450 Harrison (at First Street), S.F. Admission is $15; call 974-0634. If this five-hour-plus event doesn't leave everyone all ska'd out, folks with energy to burn can skank their mugs at a triple touring bill featuring veteran ska bands Skinnerbox, Skoidats (who fuse ska with oi!), and Inspecter 7 9 p.m. Tuesday at the Last Day Saloon, 406 Clement (at Sixth Street), S.F. Admission is $3; call 387-6343. (H.W.)

 
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