The right sate of mind: An evening with the Mad Caddies
Story by Shane Collins
Photo credit and copyrights to Shane Collins & Gonzo Okanagan
FEBRUARY 19, 2023
RUNAWAYS LOUNGE, KELOWNA
The afternoon was desolate and gray; a common winter day for this time of year. I was hung over. The mixture of a Saturday nights elixir of draft beer and cheap tequila still ebbed and flowed along the coastlines of my poor stomach.
However, the day was perfect for couches, movies and blankets. If there’s one good thing to this dreary month of February, it is the solace found within the confines of a living room. As the day sauntered on, I couldn’t help but feel the welling excitement of the punk rock show approaching like distant war drums. I suddenly worried this coming excitement might interfere with an afternoon nap. Damn it. I really am getting old.
RUNAWAYS LOUNGE is quickly becoming the lightning rod for indie and punk rock shows here in Kelowna. Since their rebranding and new ownership, the place has hosted an impressive array of talent, both local and beyond. THE BRAINS, S.S.I.K, JENNY AND THE DICKS, CHARLIE HANDSOME, GOLD SAUCE and CHASE THE BEAR are just a few I can mention off the top of my head. And now, in this God forsaken season of winter, RUNAWAYS has successfully brought yet another iconic punk rock heavyweight to its stage. THE MAD CADDIES are celebrating 28 years together as a band. All the way from Solvang, California, these veteran ska punk rockers are currently on tour with Saskatoon’s THE STEADIES. It’s a combination of Northern soul and Southern California sun.
The crowd is a mix of young and middle aged punk rock enthusiasts and they mill about as I get through the door. Myke greets me as he stamps the wrist of a young woman draped in fishnet stockings, tattoos, denim shorts and denim vest. She runs past Myke and into the arms of awaiting friends. It’s a jovial group. Lots of smiles and friendly encounters all around.
I see Colin behind the bar and I see the promoter, Terrance Smith, sitting with friends, enjoying a beer. The stage looks great. It’s full of awaiting instruments. There’s a station set up with bongos, tambourine, congas and a cowbell. Next to them is a trumpet and a trombone. I take a seat at the corner of the bar. ‘Yeah, this is going to be good’, I think to myself. Cameras are set up for a live video feed of the show that plays on the TV’s throughout the place. The anticipation is thick, like summer air before a storm. California is in the house and it doesn’t need a wristband.
When the Steadies take the stage, lead vocalist and bassist, Earl Pereira, greets everyone with a smile and a wave. “It’s so good to be back in Kelowna,” he announces. People start hustling towards the dance floor. They weave themselves past me as I stand there with my camera. Denim vests are littered with patches of bands like the misfits, the distillers, black flag, propagandhi, bad religion, snfu, the brains, raised fist and many others parade in front of the small stage as the music begins. That warm, sunshine sound is somehow found somewhere in the heartland of Saskachawan and it wraps its arms around all of us.
The reggae groove is easy to dance to. It’s a small stage with a big sound and these boys really know how to get the crowd moving. They have a young energy that’s contagious. Even with this aging demographic. THE STEADIES dispense the energy and the crowd reciprocates with vigor. The room is quickly transformed into a mosh pit and the night begins with sweat dripping upon the floor.
Before long, their set is done and as the audience heads to the bar to buy up merch and cold beer, Colin quickly comes over, smiling. I ordered a cold beer for myself. I’m drenched in sweat.
I look around at the dimly lit room. I notice how tight it is to get to the bar. The staff are running circles sound one another, pouring beer, filling glasses and ringing in orders. More people are coming in from the cold. Myke is busy checking ID’s.There is something oddly familiar about it all. It reminds me of another time. In another place. A better time in some ways. The thought fades away as the lights dim. The Mad Caddies are about to take the stage. I wave at Colin and he slides another PBR along the bartop. I grab it, crack it, take a solid pull of cold nectar and get my camera ready.
There’s 6 members of the Mad Caddies and I was, at first, skeptical whether the stage would be big enough for all of them but as the band took their places along the risers, I realized there was lots of room. This is something the venue has going for itself compared to Doc Willoughby’s. A bigger stage. The potential for big nights in a small room are ripe with promise. The room is somewhat divided for the main show. The restaurant unfolds beyond and away from the roar of the crowd, the smashing of drums or the thrashing of guitars. People are perched on an upper tier, enjoying the view from afar.
When the MAD CADDIES start things off, they don’t hesitate. The saxophone is played with that device, (I don’t know the name of it) but it looks like the end of a toilet plunger. Frontman, Chuck Robertson, is a happy-go-lucky guy. He smiles wide as he sings. They’re an animated bunch who seem stoked to be leaning into the 5th show of their tour. A new album is to be released later this year and if you haven’t heard of the MAD CADDIES, you’re in for a treat. That California sunshine seems to be woven into the fabric of their music and the room becomes sweltering hot as the tables in the restaurant are abandoned for a spot for the show.
The crowd really got into it when they covered Green Day’s SHE in a sweet, hip swaying rendition that left the crowd lathered in a nostalgia that’s rarely experienced. They lit the place up with soothing sounds of hits like, BACKYARD, STATE OF MIND and DRINKING FOR 11 while they mixed in the ruckus of a punk rock show with songs like, ROAD RASH, LEAVIN, the pirate themed, sea shanty anthem, WEIRD BEARD and a trombone solo I never knew I needed to see. A foot crashes into the back of my head. Someone is surfing. Their feet nearly touch the ceiling. I step to the side and photograph the surfer instead of the band.
Song after song, it is a singalong throughout the entire show. I spend most of the night running around, fighting for position, snapping away, taking as many photos as I can while being as present for the show. When I finally feel like I’ve got the photos I came for, I sit down, put my camera away and take a seat at the bar. I sigh and feel my age. I don’t remember my legs screaming at me like they are at this moment.
I look up to my old friend Colin Carrier as he walks over. He points to the stage, raises his eyebrows and yells, “Now THIS feels like home.” His smile reaches ear to ear. Hands on his hips he looks out to the mosh pit, the crowd surfers and reggae punk rockers that have come all this way to play their music. I look out over the crowd as I put on my jacket. “The future is now and right now feels like old times,” I say to him and he nods his head in approval. Runaways just might have the potential of being the future of Kelowna’s live music scene if it keeps putting on such a high caliber experience for the patrons who are still ravenous for a quality night out on the town.
For me, it was a breath of fresh air dancing so hard I know I’ll pay for it tomorrow. But it’s all worth it when you’re in the right state of mind. Punk rock is not dead and for this music lover, the future looks bright for a sunny revival.