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Easy Skanking: The 2016 Madaline’s SKA BY SKAWEST Music Fest

By Tristan Miller, with photos by Ryan Javier

DENTON, TX – From Friday, April 22nd to Saturday, April 23rd, the perpetuity of rhythmic ramble echoed through the Square and beyond, as the 2016 Madaline’s SKA BY SKAWEST festival commenced. Throughout the weekend, three of the area’s most popular venues, Andy’s Bar, J&J’s Pizza, and The Rubber Glove, each played host a plethora of Ska bands to muse the ears of the patrons witnessing their performance. RRJ_1754

Ticket holders had the opportunity to purchase a two-day pass wristband for twenty-five dollars, a single day pass for wristband for twenty dollars, or pay fifteen dollars for a single show.

RRJ_1525The open skies and peaceful weather of April brought many people to the Square to enjoy time with friends and family. But what really brought the excitement to the Square was the multitude of Ska enthusiasts, who wished to support the local music of Denton. Once the ticket holders purchased their wristbands, they trumped the streets of the Square at Denton to see what each promising venue had in store for them. RRJ_1481

Intriguingly, every venue had its own original qualities. J&J’s Pizza offered a downstairs basement where bands were able to play down stairs – illuminated lights that wrapped around the ceiling. This was by far one of the most unique venues, providing an intimate atmosphere for attendees.

RRJ_1441 Andy’s Bar, however, offered a darker environment with a risen stage. Patrons were able to peacefully sit at the bar or stand in front of the stage at their leisure, which was well appreciated by those who wanted to dance and/or sit peacefully. The Rubber Glove, on the other hand, was a whole new beast entirely.

RRJ_1583The venue hosted a welcoming entrance where people could come inside and grab something to drink before entering the secluded music division. Within the venue there was a standing area and a slightly lifted stage that held a captivating music experience.

RRJ_2059The Rotisserie Chickens were one of the many bands that performed in this year’s festival. The band brought the people of Denton to life with their genuine music and frank lyrics. Luckily, Madaline’s SKA BY SKAWEST had the privilege of having bands like The Rotisserie Chickens come from Dallas to be a part of the festival along with the fellow local bands in Denton. RRJ_bnSMAL_2198Michael Grover, the vocalist and trumpeter of The Rotisserie Chickens, captivated the crowd at the Robber Glove Saturday night along with the other members of the band: Trumpeter – Bradley Hastings, Guitarist – Alek Walker, Bassist – Colin Holmes, Drummer – Derrick Fickle, and Trombonist – Graham Houpt. Their open personalities and liveliness showed the true spirit of the Ska culture. Check out their first full-length album, “Hung Out To Dry”, available now on Bandcamp!

RRJ_1952In the unlikely event that scheduled bands were unable to attend the festival, Madaline’s SKA BY SKAWEST was welcoming to bands that were not a part of the Ska genre. This just goes to show how open armed the Ska community, as they were willing to cheer on fellow artists of Denton’s local music scene. The bands spirit was alive within the venue and gave an additional originality to the festival. RRJ_2233Along with the well-spirited bands, merchandise was available at the different venues from several bands as well as the festival itself. The merchandise available consisted of band t-shirts, buttons, and other memorabilia that ticket holders could purchase, in order to spread the word of their festivals to come.

RRJ_1850Patrons glided back and forth from venue to venue in anticipation of whichever band would be playing next. Ska enthusiasts danced the nights away with their highly spirited energy. Soon, however, the weekend came to a dismal end and the patrons of the festival did not want the nights to come to their imminent end.  Alas, with every year comes new opportunities, and spirit of Madaline’s SKA BY SKAWEST will live on in the hearts of the Ska community.


Ryan Javier
Co-Editor and photojournalist for Infrared Magazine
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