It seems as though that little ostrich of the music world we call Ska, in all its glorious dimensions, may be pulling its head out of the sand once again. One of the great bands to come out of the third wave of Ska, hitting American air waves in a huge way in the mid 90's, was Reel Big Fish. With a new album “Cheer Up!” to be released sometime in June, the comeback has already begun for these boys. Last night (02/07/02) RBF played the House of Blues in Hollywood, and the show they put on was testimony that they still kick as much ass as ever.
The best kinds of shows to attend are not those of bands who are in their prime; but those that have been big, retreated underground a bit, and developed a huge cult following. Well, that's exactly what Reel Big Fish have done, and the result when they came out on stage was one of joyous hysteria. The crowd was so excited to see them playing live again, I thought they may actually knock down the security gate and push their way onto the stage.
The band opened with a new song that was an obscurity to me but nonetheless fantastic, and included many old favorites in the night's line up as well. Among those were “She Has a Girlfriend Now,” “Beer,” “I Want Your Girlfriend to be My Girlfriend Too,” “The Kids Don't Like It,” their cover of the 80's hit “Take on Me,” and a closing that had the crowd jumping up and down and everyone singing along when they played “Sell Out“. Also included in the night's festivities was the always-comical onstage conversation between lead singer/guitarist Aaron Barrett and trumpet player/back up vocalist Scott Klopfenstein. From the awkward jokes that are only laughed at because the band is telling them to the mid-song snuggling that Aaron and Scott so often share, these guys sure know how to entertain their fans. All in all, the band put on an awesome show that completely rocked the house and I'm sure left every fan completely satisfied. In the words of Reel Big Fish themselves “the man said it don't get better than this” and the man was damn right. As far as the opening bands go, they were Sugarcult and Homegrown. But don't ask me how they were because for some unknown reason I can never be on time for anything and I missed them. I'm sure they were thoroughly enjoyable.
The real highlight of the evening for me came in getting to meet the boys of RBF. I was fortunate enough to get a “meet and greet” pass to see the band after the show. I met Aaron Barrett, Scott Klopfenstein, Matt Wong (bass), and Dan Regan (trombone). The band also has a new Trumpet player who replaced Tavis Werts; his name is Tyler Jones and is formerly of Spring Healed Jack. They were all very nice and willing to talk with their fans. Although all were equally friendly, I'd have to say that Dan was the most mellow. We sat with him and his newly grown fro, as he offered up a beer to my boyfriend and conversation that was both interesting and entertaining. Later on in the evening when asked for a quote Scott told us “Tonight was just a preview of all the ass kicking we are going to do this year.” And all us RBF fans are anxiously awaiting this ass kicking when the band takes the stage once again on all of the U.S. dates of the Vans Warped Tour. Until then, RBF will be touring with Sum41 in Europe.
This is a band with some serious talent that can put on one hell of a show. If they get the come back they deserve, we'll be seeing a lot more of them in the near future. Until then I'll just have to reminisce about the times when Ska was popular, music was happy and RBF was on the radio.
shannon at unearthed dot com