Live Review: Reel Big Fish – Rock City (3/3/2013)

If you’ve never been to one of Reel Big Fish’s shows, or a ska punk show in general I suppose, they’re a bit difficult to describe. This is the second Reel Big Fish show I’ve seen. At both shows I witnessed the entire crowd square dance. No sure if that’s a typical thing, but 2 out of 2 shows puts it at a 100% probability rate. So if you do go to a show prepare to square dance. Because when Reel Big Fish tell you to square dance, by God, you do it.

Also at both shows the crowd got up to wild antics, such as crowd surfing at one show, and hurling bras on stage at the other. Shoes flew everywhere. Cups and beer were in the air. People in the crowd ran around in a circle and continually ran into each other. It looked painful. There were people in Pikachu costumes, someone in a polar bear suit. Some guy lost his keys. How is he supposed to get home?! It was a bloodbath.

Suburban Legends, a ska band from California, opened at this gig, along with the last one I went to. They were fantastic last time I saw them, and they didn’t disappoint. Front man Vince engaged the crowd, cracked jokes, and bounced around like a cute little bunny, along with the rest of the band who were equally as energetic. Even though they were a supporting act, in no way did Reel Big Fish upstage them. They used to play shows at Disney World so they’ve got a repertoire of Disney songs up their sleeves. And let me tell you, there’s hardly anything as heartwarming as singing “I Just Can’t Wait to Be King” along with a crowd of people who can claim, “This is my jam”. Three cheers for Generation Y! Suburban Legends closed their set with a performance of “We Are the Champions”, once again the crowd camaraderie set in, It was beautiful and left my eyes a bit damp.

Reel Big Fish must be one of the liveliest acts I’ve ever seen. Making their way onto the stage, each member has their own quirky personality. The trumpet player is in yellow shorts, a yellow shirt, with an unbuttoned Hawaiian shirt over top; the sax player is in a skinny tie, a beret, and a vest; the trombonist is wearing cropped trousers, Doc Martens, and a dressy jacket; the lead singer is in all white, looking particularly Elvis-like, with sideburns that are out of this world; and they’re all wearing Ray-bans. I mean it’s all completely cheesy, but you don’t go to a Reel Big Fish show just for the music. You go to get weird.

They played a few songs from their most recent album, Candy Coated Fury, released last July. The most memorable moments of the performance were, of course, during classics such as “Beer”, “Your Guts (I Hate ‘Em)” and “Sellout”. Often times they’d perform little skits during a song, make comical gestures at other band members, or have synchronized dance moves. And when Aaron, the lead singer, introduces a song with “So this song is about a girl who left me for another girl” you know what’s coming. Reel Big Fish are great crowd pleasers, and it’s a really entertaining atmosphere they create. It’s an atmosphere that contains songs about lesbian ex-girlfriends, getting drunk, and our vast and hilarious consumerist culture. No heaviness, no pretentiousness, just a party at which you can laugh at yourself, the band and everyone around you.

Hailey Mawhinney

…Hailey is listening to The American Dollar – ‘A Memory Stream’


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