Mad Caddies @ Louis’, Saskatoon, Canada

Words: Miljan Milekić

For quite a few years up to this point, Mad Caddies seemed to be “the one that got away” when it came to catching them live. Two or three times in the past I happened to be in the same city on the day they were playing, but for various reasons could not be at the show. Hell, I even missed last year’s gig in Saskatoon due to the clash with the Dub FX show on the same night, the one we had planned out months ago, as it was originally supposed to happen a few months earlier.

This time, however, was different. From the moment this tour was announced, I was determined to make it happen and to be there, no matter what. No small part was the fact that they have a new album on the way, and I loved every song released from it so far. Add in the chance to see Belvedere, and it was all pointing out to a great night in Saskatchewan’s biggest city. Speaking of Belvedere, it was Alberta’s cult heroes who took the stage right after we arrived at Lous’. Once again, the weekday show, and relatively early start meant we missed the opening band, Saskatoon’s own Me The Guts, who seem to be catching quite some steam playing with bands such as Mad Caddies and Lagwagon.

Belvedere, on the other hand, were very welcome guests, returning to the town after more than a decade. It didn’t take long for the four-piece to show why they are one of the most well-respected skate punk bands out there. Right from the get-go they got the crowd moving. Filled with energy, their set was long enough to get everyone going and short enough to serve as an invitation for their headline show in Regina on Saturday, for the ones who can be there. Mixing the old with the new, the band touched on most of their records, while still finding the time to honor legendary Bad Religion with a back to back covers of ‘Change of Ideas’ and ‘Do What You Want.’

Their most recent album, 2021’s ‘Hindsight Is the Sixth Sense’ was showcased with heavy hitters such as ‘Happily Never After,’ ‘Elephant March,’ and my personal favorite ‘Good Grief Retreat,’ which all triggered great reactions among the fans, showing that the band didn’t have to wait for that long to bring them to the town. The whole set was in high spirits with the band sharing jokes and stories they collected over half a century of their career. In the year 2024, the skate punk sound, once again, seems to be gaining some more traction outside of the core fans, but there was a time when the genre was all-present in mainstream media. Like the time when Belvedere had videos on Much Music and singer Steve Rawles, which he reminded us of, before closing the set with a couple of older fan-favorites and leaving the stage to headliners.

Mad Caddies, in full force, and with a completely new lineup and a brand-new album came in next. They took the stage, all of it, and instantly turned the place into a tropical party. They opened strongly, revisiting their 2007 record ‘Keep It Going,’ including a powerful version of ‘Backyard.’ From the very beginning, they did what they do best – combining ska, punk, and reggae, with all the quicks and spices that make their music so special. It didn’t long, however, for them to set their foot into the new music as well, with ‘Palm Trees and Pines’ being fired up relatively early in the set. I know I’ll have old fans come after me for this, but probably one of the best songs the band ever wrote. Shortly after, they revisited their 2018 project ‘Punk Rocksteady,’ with an amazing, slow-down cover of Green D… sorry, Lagwagon’s ‘She.’ 

Although their new album is not out for two more weeks – but the Canadian crowd is the first one that can buy it at shows, the band decided to showcase another new song, jazzy reggae number ‘Beautiful Bed,’ before kicking into what was a special treat for their old fans. The “Dad Caddies” part of the set was dedicated to all the parents in the crowd, who decided to go out on a Wednesday night and see the band. Six songs, all over two decades old, with five seconds break between them kicked off a massive dance party in front of the stage. ‘Contraband,’ ‘Monkeys,’ ‘Road Rash,‘Weird Beard,’ ‘Villains,’ ‘Falling Down’ the band was running through all styles and genres, speeds and tempos in their little time machine.

As the end of the show was near, the band delivered arguably their biggest hit, and “the only #1 they ever had, although it was just in Hawaii,” ‘Drinking For 11,’ sang by every person in the room. The song was followed up by another cult classic – ‘Coyote,’ before the band shortly left the stage. The encore started quite unusually, with two new songs – ‘Green Eyes’ and ‘Baby,’ the first being released just days before the show, but the crowd didn’t seem to mind as the dance party continued. The very end, however, was reserved for two known crowd-favorites ‘All American Badass’ and ‘Mary Melody,’ sending everyone home happy.

I would lie if I said that Mad Caddies were my favorite band, or that I was their #1 fan. I always liked the band, and they have some songs that I really love, but more than anything, I have a massive respect for them. Being different and unique, they were always bringing something fresh to the punk rock scene, crack-opening its door to other genres, and to new fans alike. That uniqueness made them one of the staples in the Californian scene while taking them all around the world. And while I would love for our next encounter to be somewhere outside, perhaps on a beach in the sunlight, I’m happy and thankful for a breath of Californian summer in the middle of cold Saskatchewan winter.

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