home Concert Review Ska Summit: Fish Fight in Las Vegas – March 29, 2003

Ska Summit: Fish Fight in Las Vegas – March 29, 2003

Sun, gambling, buffets, and ska music. What else can you ask for on a Saturday in March?

Though acts in the hot desert sun vary from thrilling to mundane, the entire day is captured in the comparison of two of the biggest bands of the day: Reel Big Fish and Fishbone.

Nominally, both groups reference underwater, but these differences in name unravel the core distinctions. “Reel Big Fish” is a command, ordering us – as their loyal followers – to flee to the lakes, storm the beaches and cast our (metaphorical) poles into the water, pulling out the largest thing in the sea. Basically, to get out there and have a good time. Live free and shake it all around.

“Fishbone,” is a bit more enigmatic. Taken as a statement, it speaks of aquatic lunged creatures and the fact that they procreate. It's most common definition is, of course, the marrow containing part of the fish. But even this seems to speak more. Why would they want to be a piece of a cold blooded creature? And already you're thinking more than just skankin' it up, looking around, wondering if others have questions as well.

Fishbone is the old. Reel Big Fish is the new.

Mixing politics with a reggae beat, Ska music's origins date back over two decades and Fishbone stays true to the roots. Angelo Moore, lead singer, sax and theramin player, introduces a song: “I'm not gonna curse. They told me 'there's too much cursin' going on here today. If you curse, you don't get paid.' So, I'm not going to curse… This song is dedicated to George W. Bush… It's called, Lying Ass Bitch.” A song or two does not pass without a word about the state of our world. Fishbone tells us there are other things beyond this sweet, skankin' music with steep rythem and engaging horn solos. There's life. Dance for now, in the complicated rhythms and progressions most bands on the Summit could never dream of duplicating, but remember there is a real world out there. Politics and art, rattling through the minds of thousands, their heads dancing and swaying away. In Vegas? Who would have thought?

Once the dancing starts, it doesn't stop, but as the day grows old it's obvious whom the fans are here to see. Like most bands at the Summit, Reel Big Fish has a loyal following of exuberant youth who have not only memorized the catchy lyrics, but each and every happy upbeat. When Aaron steps on stage the audience erupts in an energy war – even after ten hours of standing in the Vegas heat – and the 'Fish know how to keep it going. Bodies on bodies, adolescents rub tighter than any prom dance, coming as closer to impregnating one another than ever before. Yet there's nothing sexual about the performance; it's good clean fun, with the cover of Ah-Ha's “Take On Me” emotionally climaxing the innocents, and with “She's Got a Girlfriend Now,” the crowd smokes a post-coital cigarette. Metaphorically, of course.

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