STANHOPE, NJ—There’s really nothing quite like a good punk/ska show in the middle of the summertime at The Stanhope House. It was definitely one of the hottest days of the year but that certainly wasn’t stopping me from seeing The Moms play. The fact that the headlining band was a legend among youthful ska fans was surely a bonus.

I pulled up to the venue after a long day of work and a long week of anticipation. There were some bands opening that I was unfamiliar with yet they seemed to carry a nice tune—but I was primarily there for the other attractions. Big D And The Kids Table were the headlining band I was unfamiliar with. I’d heard only a few seconds of their music once before but other than that, I could only plead ignorance. On the other hand, The Moms were a band I had seen back in January, and was looking forward to catching again.

After the boys had their fun and were warmed up, they marched on stage to do their sound check. The crowd instantly moved closer to the stage and I got the sense that this show was going to be a good one. They opened up the scene with frontman Joey Nester and his antics. All around, the mix in sound was pretty decent. One of the most memorable aspects of the set was watching drummer Donny Saraceno. This man was an animal on the drums. Every hit of the skins seemed to be backed up by full body movement, as the beat was played with pure passion. To the side of Saraceno was bassist Jon Stolpe, who displayed his own style of punk bass playing while singing backup melodies to Nester’s already vibrant vocals. The whole set was nothing short of a good time and proved to be perfectly fitting as an opener for Big D.

The kids started to fill the room, as members of Big D were off to the side doing their tune-ups and pre-show rituals. A friend of mine was basically in fainting mode well after the singer complimented her hair earlier. Right from the get-go, Big D And The Kids Table started killing it. It was almost as if each member had joined the stage one after the other, with space in between, which left me anticipating just who and what these guys were. A two-piece horn section was great to hear. The trumpet player had an aura of joy the entire time while the rather large bassist grooved next to him with quick fingers and straining facial expressions. Naturally, I jumped on top of some people and almost hurt myself in the process, but I had no concerns. The music was so fun-feeling that I couldn’t think of a damn thing except moving around as much as possible. The best part was that I was unfamiliar with every song yet still had a blast. At the end of their set, they played what were apparently older songs, and we rushed the stage from behind, pushing the singer into the crowd for a surf session as a thank you for such a great time.

I left The Stanhope House immediately after their set in order to beat the traffic and to stop at the local Quick Chek for a slurpee, since I was totally drenched in sweat. The whole evening was immaculate. It had been a long time since I had been to a ska show and I’d forgotten how much fun they were. I must say thank you to The Moms and Big D And The Kids Table for an evening of recklessness.

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