‘Bumpin Uglies’ at the Cats Cradle

Krysten Heberly


PC: Krysten Heberly

On Sunday, September 2nd, the dreams of 1994 were alive once again as Ska music rang out into the streets of Carrboro. It was here that Bumpin Uglies had taken the stage with that Reggae-punk sound, bringing a little bit of sunshine to the Tarheel State.

The night started off with a bang, as Raleigh based ‘Sons of Paradise’ took the stage. From the first notes of their introduction, Sons of Paradise were making it apparent that they should be headlining their own show. More importantly, it seemed that they were on a personal mission to prove that Ska is still alive and well, a point that came across well with the audience.


PC: Krysten Heberly

Donned in street clothes, but toting some pretty serious equipment, Sons of Paradise had that classic Ska look, with a sound that felt fresh and new. Though the lyrics about sunshine and living carefree were the same, their sound mixed the influences of more electronic music, and a groovin’ brass sound to create a sound that felt unique to the band specifically.

After a full set, Sons of Paradise left the stage, and the crowd felt electric, buzzing with anticipation for Bumpin Uglies. As the band set up, they made jokes with the audience, making the crowd seem familiar and comfortable. Then, without an introduction, the band simply dove into the music.

Bumpin Uglies seemed a lot more relaxed as opposed to Sons of Paradise, beginning with a slow building power jam, complete with shredding bass and strong lyrics to get the crowd dancing. This chill sound continued throughout the show, with few variations from the Reggae sound so prevalent throughout the genre.

One of my personal favorite songs of the night was ‘Officer O’Herlihy’. Lead singer and guitarist, Brandon Hardesty, introduced the song as “a song about an encounter (Brandon) had with law enforcement. It starts off as ‘Officer O’Herlihy’, but becomes o’Hurley because f— that guy!”

Though the song was about Brandon’s own experience with law enforcement, its message seemed much more powerful than one man’s struggle with the law. It quickly changed from an anti-authority jam about legalization, to an anthem about the power dynamics of police and citizens currently in America.

The night then began to pick up with some sounds that returned to the more punk side of ska, and there was even an audience request for their loving classic ‘9 Words’. As they made their way through a repertoire of new and old jams, the band made jokes with the crowd. The open and free nature of the show created a unique kind of intimacy between the band and the crowd. It wasn’t just the lyrics that felt like a warmer day, but the atmosphere of the show as a whole.

Bumpin Uglies felt like a time capsule of the third-wave of Ska. Perhaps it was the heavy Sublime influences, complete with snappy, electric bass riffs, and even a ‘Badfish’ t-shirt donned on-stage. Perhaps it was the carefree sound and vibes of the night which kept the audience dancing with complete strangers as if they were old friends. Whatever the source, there was a specific nostalgia about Bumpin Uglies which felt warm and familiar, rather than bittersweet.


PC: Krysten Heberly

Categories: Arts & Entertainment

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1 reply

  1. What is this Ska you speak of?


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