Massachusetts: Mighty Mighty Bosstones
Mighty Mighty Bosstones are everything a ska band from Massachusettes should be: gruff, but not above wordplay. Leave it to a bunch of Massholes to put a pun in a ska band that shouts out Boston. What, was the name “Fuck the Skankees” already taken?
Michigan: Mustard Plug
Yet another legendary ska band who needs no introduction, Mustard Plug is head-and-shoulders above all other ska bands from the car capital of the 1980s. Fun fact about all Michigan music scenes: everyone has to 8-Mile battle rap to be accepted. You can’t even imagine how nice Dave Kirchgessner is on the mic.
Minnesota: The Von Tramps
The Von Tramps bring a mix of ska, reggae, and alternative rock. They mix a modern sound with the best elements of what ’90s ska had to offer. Also, in researching this band we noticed the same handful of touring horn players who are in several active bands on this list. It’s wild seeing something straight out of a local scene happen on a national level.
Mississippi: Flying Racoon Suit
Marketing themselves as “the only ska band in Mississippi,” Flying Racoon Suit brings an experimental take to the Catch 22/Streetlight Manifesto style of ska. They may be few and far between, but prog-ska bands make some of the most re-listenable records of all time.
Missouri: The Gadjits
Hellcat Records’ “The Gadjits” might be from Missouri, but their sound is straight out of Gilman circa 1991. They also place more focus on the keyboard than most ska bands, which is a welcome tip of the hat to a part of the ska sound that’s often shoved in the background. Or, if you’re No Doubt, shoved out of the publicity photos once they got big. A Tragic Kingdom indeed, Queen Gwen.
Montana: The Skoidots
Coming like a bat out of Helena, “The Skoidots” bring the punch of punk and the swing of… well, swing. Every vocal line sounds like the singer might reach through the speakers and punch you in your dumb fucking head for not liking ska enough. We fucking dare you to say “ska sucks” around a Skoidot. It’ll be checkered curtains for you.
Apparently, nobody in Nebraska likes ska because the first thing that comes up when you google “Nebraska ska band” is a satire article and the rest of the results are just people trying to convince us 311 is a ska band. So let’s run with that one. 311 has incorporated many alternative genres into their music over the years, including ska. Does anyone remember how “Amber” had upstrokes? If not, listen again and it’ll blow your mind.
Nevada: Be Like Max
Fest punk-meets-ska is a pretty apt description of Vegas’ “Be Like Max.” A grimy-sounding band from the grime capital of the world.
New Hampshire: Skarotum
Now THAT is a fucking ska pun. They just don’t name ska bands like they did in the ’90s. And, honestly, that’s for the best.
New Jersey: Streetlight Manifesto
Ahh, the great debate. Is Streetlight Manifesto a ska band? Yes, obviously. But more accurately: kinda. Anyway, what is NOT up for debate is that they’re hands-down the best ska band from New Jersey. Not even close. There was one other New Jersey ska band that was almost as good as Streetlight Manifesto, but they really fell off after their first album.