The Pietasters have released several albums, but it's their live shows that have earned them loyal followings on both coasts. "Freak Show," the name of one of the local ska band's best-received songs, is also an accurate description of the band's Halloween show Sunday night at Nation. The cavernous club had been transformed into a "Blair Witch"-style forest, and while the audience included Bob's Big Boy, the Phantom of the Opera and other assorted ghouls, the Pietasters took the stage dressed as the gang from "Gilligan's Island."
Throughout the night, front man Steve Jackson's Skipper was ably supported by the horn section featuring Gilligan, Mary Ann and Ginger, but the spirit of the evening was perhaps best exhibited by a concertgoer whose costume was a simple sign hung from his neck: "Will Drop Pants for Beer." Opening band Spring Heeled Jack added to the fraternity house atmosphere by performing in precariously draped togas and taking full advantage of the onstage keg.
The more tasteful and disciplined Pietasters skillfully paid homage to '60s Jamaican ska, American soul and traditional rock while never straying far from the topics of beer and women. These themes were evident in the soulful "Wasted," from the new album "Awesome Mix Tape #6," and upbeat crowd favorites including "Maggie Mae," "Dollar Bill" and "Drinkin' and Drivin'." The group was at its strongest when joined by local deejay Selah, who added reggae-dance-hall-style rapping on "Fat Sack" and "Can't Stand It."