There was a time, not too long ago, when your average young music fan would have been as hard-pressed to describe ska-punk as he would a didgeridoo. Then along came a song called "The Impression That I Get," by the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, and the great ska-punk explosion of the mid- to late '90s was on. Every major label had to have its own. Sure, it didn't last long -- maybe not even as long as "pin-up boy industrial" -- but dang, it was fun.

Boston's Mighty Mighty Bosstones might have given the genre its most recent push into the limelight, but ska-punk of some sort or another has been getting made for years -- and getting made well by some. The Bosstones' own pre-"Impression" history is still far longer than its post-hit duration.

During those lean years, the band made ends meet by touring like dogs and tapping into a metal fan base. The combination of full-crunch guitars and Dicky Barrett's harder-than-thou posturing and nuts-in-a-meat-grinder vocal delivery made gobbling up headbangers no stretch at all, really. It didn't hurt that the Bosstones could flat-out kill live. Even Fishbone, at the height of its popularity, once made the mistake of letting the Bosstones open a show. The Bone got its ass handed to it.

Since kicking the commercial door down, the Mighty Mighty Bosstones have lapped the world on tour umpteen times, headlining festivals hither and yon, playing every shed standing in North America and about 3,671 different-size clubs. And the thing is, the band still kills. The Bosstones have gone through the looking glass, seen how the other half lives and have not been softened by the experience. Thankfully.

KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Chris Smith