Kevin E. Taylor remembers when Charleston kids in the ’80s used to build their own skate ramps. Now they’re taking the initiative 30 years later in bringing a new skatepark to Charleston.
“Everyone who did that then is still doing that today,” says Taylor. The statement could also function as the mantra for SK843, a gang of like-minded individuals that came together several decades ago through the love of skateboarding. The Charleston-based crew adhered to the skater notion that, “If your city doesn’t have a skatepark, your city is a skatepark,” with kids from Summerville to James Island finding camaraderie while skating through shopping centers.
A native of Mt. Pleasant currently based in San Francisco, Taylor is a skater, visual artist, and musician. He curates the fourth annual SK843 George Street Reunion Party on Mon. Dec. 27 at Voodoo. The event finds local skaters and musicians coming back together for a raucous punk-rock homecoming.
“We held the reunion at the Tin Roof last year, but Voodoo stepped up and came to us first,” Taylor says. “We don’t really ask for anything high profile when it comes to venues — just a place that serves beer and has space for us to play.”
FLK and Matter, two indie bands fronted by Taylor in the early 2000s, are set to perform at the reunion.
FLK (a.k.a. Funny Looking Kids) played last year’s get-together, delivering a set of straightforward old-school punk rock (including several Sex Pistols and Bad Brains covers). Matter’s performance this year will be the first in two years, and attendees can expect a set as hard-hitting as FLK’s. The quartet doesn’t limit itself to traditional instrumentation, offering a mix of rock and art-rock that Taylor has dubbed “punk floyd,” among other names.
“We’ve always described Matter as ‘crack-rock.’ Stylistically, it’s all over the place,” Taylor says, “But we’ll probably keep it loud and heavy for the reunion.”
Also in store for the night is a DJ set by James Islander-turned-L.A.-denizen Alfred Hawkins. “Alfred called me a few weeks ago and mentioned doing a reunion. I told him, ‘Hey man, we’re already doing it. Jump on in,’” Taylor says.
Even across the country, Taylor still keeps tabs on the Lowcountry skate scene. On the recent announcement of a city-funded Charleston skatepark, Taylor says it’s good news, but it doesn’t surprise him. “It’s definitely possible. Back in ’89 we were a bunch of 13 and 14-year olds showing up at city meetings telling them that.”
For those that can’t make it to the reunion but are trying to catch Taylor during his Charleston visit, his solo project Death Cheetah makes a stop by the Tin Roof on Sun. Jan. 9 with support from Kevin Hamilton and Cusses.
Taylor is pleased by the spirit of community that holds SK843 together. “I want this reunion to get bigger and bigger, but I’m not trying to make this into a big sponsored event,” he says. “Skateboarding brought us together and kept us together. There are still people I went to middle school with that I keep in touch with. I see so many people that go to college, get married, and separate from their friends. They’re friends on Facebook, but what importance is that? We just want to hold this to make sure everyone gets to see each other.”