Author: Jacob Wake Up!

Put down the drink and dance. Guitarist for @thenewlimits, bassist for hire. Marketer at @wheelockcollege. #bostonska fanboy. he/his/him.

REVIEW: The Perceptionists Perform Intimate Set with Members of Dub Apocalypse at Lizard Lounge

There was too much talent on the tiny stage at Lizard Lounge last night. I’m sure this is often the case given the size of the venue and the sheer volume of talent in the Boston area. Nonetheless last night was something special.


Boston MCs Mr. Lif and Akrobatik combine their powers to form The Perceptionists. Their latest release “Resolution” is one of my favorite recent hip hop releases. At this particular show, they were backed by Van Martin, Tommy Benedetti, and Chris Beam—guitar, drums, and bass respectively—of Boston reggae band Dub Apocalypse as well as DJ Mister Rourke.

The Set

Their first set was all highlights from “Resolution” with Dub Apocalypse performing the backing tracks and still breathing new life into already stellar jams including “Early Mourning,” “Hose Down,” “Out of Control,” and “Resolution.” The second set was a mix of Perceptionists songs mixed with previous solo efforts from Mr. Lif and Akrobatik. I recognized a couple songs from Akrobatik’s phenomenal “Absolute Value” album. That set started with just the DJ and then musicians were added over the course of a few songs, giving it a very distinct feel from the first set.

This sold-out show gave me chills. I was initially antsy about how the intimate, almost cabaret setting might create a restrained, muted atmosphere, but the room was very much alive and the energy was palpable. The band was flawless, playing off the MCs as if they’d been performing together for years. Mr. Lif and Akrobatik owned the space like they were playing in their own living rooms. If the shout-outs were any indication it was clear they were performing to a room full of friends and family. This was one hell of a way to start a tour.

The second set contained an incredible freestyle that I attempted to film.

The only question I had the end of the night, my only tiny quibble, was how come we didn’t get to hear Lif and Akrobatik rap over a reggae rhythm? It felt like such a missed opportunity given it’s Dub Apocalypse’s specialty. I went in assuming most of the backing rhythms would be reggae-tinged. I’ve already forgiven everyone because the music and the night were top notch in every way.

“Resolution” gets better with every listen and I’m thoroughly enjoying my journey through Mr. Lif’s and Akrobatik’s discography. I went in knowing a few Mr. Lif records and I caught a short Akrobatik set at a festival in 2015. Last nights show was reminder that I hadn’t done all of my homework. “Resolution” is available on vinyl and you can rest assured I went home with a copy.

Post Script

I went back to watch their NPR Tiny Desk performance and lo and behold, Van Martin and Tommy Benedetti are playing guitar and drums in the clip! Now idea how I missed that the first time.

Further Reading


Vans Warped Tour Announces Lineup for Final Summer

This post originally appeared on Boston Ska (dot) net.

“This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.”

The Vans Warped Tour recently announced the lineup for their final summer tour. The list of bands is pretty underwhelming. Acts of note include Reel Big Fish and Less Than Jake, but none others with immediately appeal to the ska audience. (The Interrupters are appearing on select dates not including Massachusetts). The tour visits the Xfinity Center in Mansfield on July 27. (more…)

Beantown Jewish Gardens: You Spoke, We Listened

I have had the pleasure of being involved with Beantown Jewish Gardens since moving to Boston in 2012. I wrote the following letter on behalf of the Board of Directors of this nonprofit following the initiation of a strategic planning process. The original version was posted here.

One year ago, Ganei Beantown convened the first meeting of a new board of directors. The creation of this board was necessary to ensure the long term viability of Ganei Beantown. This new board is a group of individuals focused on supporting and sustaining the work of this grassroots organization. (more…)

REVIEW: The English Beat and Pressure Cooker at Brighton Music Hall

This post originally appeared at Boston Ska (dot) net.

No one was more surprised than me to walk up to the doors of Brighton Music Hall and see that The English Beat show was sold out. Really? The English Beat? In 2017? I was floored. Local support from Pressure Cooker and DJ Panda was added pretty late and the $35 was unlikely to draw in newer fans making a sold out house all the more impressive. (more…)

Fishbone Performs “Chim Chim’s Badass Revenge” Album in Cambridge

This post original appeared on Boston Ska (dot) net.

This Wednesday, ska/punk pioneers Fishbone will perform their 1996 album “Chim Chim’s Badass Revenge” in full at The Sinclair in Cambridge.

Admittedly, this album is one I know least well of all their releases and I had to give it a thorough listen in advance of their show Wednesday. The album was panned by fans and critics but make no mistake, it’s a strong Fishbone album. It just lacked the strong ska singles I’m sure many audiences wanted in 1996. The Busta Rhymes guest appearance alone is worth the journey. (more…)

The Ska Scene Has An Obligation to Fight Racism

Our legacy and professed values demand action.

This post originally appeared at Boston Ska (dot) net.

Following the election, I was among the many who found themselves paralyzed. I was fluctuating through my own journey of anger, fear, and sadness, but also reevaluating the role of this blog. It seemed tone-deaf to simply post a record review or a YouTube clip as I might on any other day of the week. I began where I always do when I’ve got a free moment to write. What are bands doing? What are they up to? What do they have to say on the matter? (more…)