The To-Do List, Jan. 12-15 

by John Tarpley



7 p.m., Downtown Music Hall. $15

Now closing in on 23 years as one of the most essential hardcore acts to spring from Alphabet City, Madball, spun directly off from legendary Agnostic Front, have remained a reliable force of the genre, releasing their spin on rap-infused punk at a steady tack since their inception. All this despite a consistently rotating lineup — one that, until recently, included drummer Jay Weinberg, whose famous dad landed him a spot behind the E Street Band skins over summer 2009. Unconcerned with making wild leaps forward, Madball is still harkening back to that point in punk's puberty where grunge lived next door and tough-guy trenchcoats were required angry kid uniform. The Canadian hardcore crew of Comeback Kid rounds out the bill alongside locals (and Downtown Music steadies) Cruel Hand.



9 p.m., Juanita's. $15.

Conceived in the '60s by Caribbean rhythms and far-traveling AM stations and birthed by Prince Buster and his rood boi buddies in tropical studio shacks, ska grazed to maturity in the fields of 1980s Northern England, shepherded by greats like The Specials and Madness. Exported to America in the '90s, it was injected with West Coast punk hormones and gobbled up by a hungry public. Since then, the fatted calf of ska has been pecked clean to the bleached bone. As the years went on, bands became more scarce, ideas more stale and dudes by the thousands found out the hard way that wearing checkered bowling shirts with Airwalks gets you nothing more than an express ticket to Celibacy City. What I'm saying is that you've gotta hand it to Reel Big Fish. Years after ska became synonymous with irrelevancy, the So-Cal troupe is still in demand from a hungry fanbase. And at risk of losing any rock-crit cred I've collected along the years, I'll own up to my own tuba-sized soft spot for RBF. Their cover of A-Ha's "Take On Me" can still make me skank if no one's looking and (gulp!) if you ask me on the right day, "Why Do They Rock So Hard," their 1998 moment of genre-mashing gold, would be one of my desert island discs. For a band that sung "there's so many fish in the sea/they all look like me," Reel Big Fish may not spawn little fishies as much as they used to, but they sure as hell out-swam the rest of the pack. The electro goofball duo of Koo Koo Kanga Roo and Fayetteville ska-punkers Six Hung Sprung open.



8 p.m., Downtown Music Hall. $10.

Go ahead. Your mom told you not to judge a book by its cover, but chances are your mom never heard of Honky. The Texas trio sounds exactly like you'd expect. And it's not a bad thing. Rather, it ain't no bad thang. They're the sound of trailer park hedonism, an awesomely pungent hick-punk brew that sounds like flat beer and ditch weed smells. Formed by J.D. Pinkus after the psychedelic shock-rock of his old band, the inimitable Butthole Surfers, fizzled out, Honky has gigged since 1996, crisscrossing the country while remaining a boozy mainstay on their native Austin, Texas, stages. Now with Bobby Ed Landgraf (guitarist for notorious X-rated R&B geriatric Blowfly) on guitar and Little Rock's Justin Collins (of Go Fast and the late, great The Looks) on drums, Honky's still at it, churning out so-stupid-it's-gotta-be-smart tracks like "Walkin' on Moonshine," "Love to Smoke Yr Weed" and tons of others that make a great soundtrack for getting spun on Mini Thins and siphoning gas from your mama's Geo Metro before she gets back from her Skoal run. Honky gets support from a gang of like-minded Little Rockers with throwback punk Outstanding Red Team, psychobilly staples Josh the Devil & the Sinners and the testosterone bomb known to locals as the Tom Sweet Band.



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