REVIEW: The Naked Giants and Kid Smoko Rock the Skidmore Tang Show
Among the brick buildings and winding paths of trees on Skidmore’s campus lies the bright white trapezoidal Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery. As the name suggests, the ‘Tang’ houses Skidmore’s impressive art collection, and serves as an interactive learning experience for Skidmore students interested in art.
Not only does the Tang showcase works of physical art, but is also regularly used as a concert space. On Friday, September 13th, the Skidmore Student Entertainment Committee kicked off the fall semester with the free Tang Show. The Seattle-based band Naked Giants headlined the concert, with the band Kid Smoko opening.
As my friends and I ran from our dorm to the concert at the “wedge” outside of the Tang, we saw the colorful lights and heard the pulsating rhythm of the guitars. The moment we reached the show, we were greeted by a crush of people dancing along to Kid Smoko’s signature funky rock music.
Hailing from New Jersey, Kid Smoko’s band is comprised of vocalists RiPMiKEYB and Marty Fraud, guitarists Smoko Town$ship and Smoko Linguini, and the band’s producer, Ranti, who frequently provides backup vocals. While the band has many trappings of a traditional rock band, they transcend the conventional style of alternative rock music by combining groovy guitar riffs, electronic beats, and lyrics that manage to reflect on such touching topics such as heartbreak, while all the while maintaining an energetic tempo.
After Kid Smoko’s hour-long opening set, the crowd was pumped for the Naked Giants to take the stage, with crowd members jokingly yelling for the band to set up faster. As aforementioned, the grunge rock and roll band hails from Seattle, Washington. Guitarist and vocalist Grant Mullen and drummer Henry LaVelle have been making music together since they were in high school. The duo eventually discovered bassist and vocalist Gianni Aiello at a local Seattle performance and invited him to be their third member.
The band has been making music together since 2014, and have so-far released their debut EP, one studio length album, and numerous singles. Their music style can best be described as a mix of the grunge music popularized in their hometown of Seattle, with hints of rock and roll. The listener hears a cacophony of guitar riffs, drum solos, and the vocalists yelling the lyrics that discuss topics such as love, feeling misunderstood, and how great of boyfriends the bandmates would be.
The positive reception the band has received from critics mirrors the enthusiasm demonstrated by the Skidmore community at the show. The crowd began to eagerly gathered near the front of the stage as we watched the band members set up the stage for their set, and when the lead singer and guitarist, Grant Mullen, struck the first chord on his guitar, the crowd went wild. People danced, sang along at the tops of their lungs, thrashed “SLUFF” and “Dead/Alien.”
At multiple points throughout their set, mosh pits formed near the front of the stage; the crowd got so rowdy that someone lost their checkered van in the sea of college students, and people fell to the ground, but quickly got up and continued to dance. The band’s manager also had to frequently ask students to stop sitting on the edge of the stage, despite the band members actively encouraging the crowd’s craziness.
By the end of the concert, the band members and crowd alike were sweaty and tired, yet still thrumming with energy. Grant Mullen of the Naked Giants couldn’t have said it better: “The concert and the people of Skidmore were lit.”