Even though Reel Big Fish has been producing records for years now, and their live shows are consistently fun, high-energy affairs, like most ska bands they tend to attract youngsters. Most of the crowd was under 16, which is fine, but what happened to the old-time fans?
It's like people decide that they've outgrown ska,and pass on the love to their younger siblings. I don't get this; you're never to old to dance and have a good time.
As far as opening bands go, it was a solid lineup. It started with the Descendents-styled sound of the all-African American punk band, Whole Wheat Bread. They were followed by Transition, a band from Pennsylvania that were really tight, and live reminded me of Yellowcard without the violin.
Streetlight Manifesto was the the only ska band on the opening bill, and they really filled that spot well. They were a high energy ska punk band with a full-power horn section that pushed the music.
Although MXPX were technically co-headliners, I have been a fan of Reel Big Fish for a long time, and I considered MXPX an opener as well. Even so, they hammered through a power pop punk set, which included my favorite MXPX song "Party at My House", and an encore that featured a sweet cover of The Proclaimers' "500 Miles" and did a nice segue into "Surrender" by Cheap Trick.
Reel Big Fish
Once Reel Big Fish took the stage, they proceeded to blast their way through a powerful set of ska punk. The banter with the crowd was minimal, it seemed they had walked on stage with simple intention of making sure everybody danced to the point of exhaustion.
Their set was a fun walk through some of their best songs. They opened with their cover of A-ha's take on me, and continued through some of my favorites, including "Everything Sucks", "Watch Us Go Down In Flames", and "Suburban Rhythm." Giving the horns a break, they even threw in a cover of Metallica's "Enter Sandman" that was pretty dead-on.
Selling Out The Evening
As everyone probably expected, they closed with "Sell Out." With their biggest hit out of the way, everyone seemed like they thought that was the end of the night. I know I did.
It was a really cool surprise when the band then came out for an encore, playing "Thank You For Not Moshing" (which didn't stop anyone) and closing the night, for real this time with a slamming cover of Operation Ivy's "Unity".
The entire set was like hearing raw energy accented with horns, and even the non-dancers were all over the place. If anything disappointed me about the night, it was the age of the crowd. Like I said, there weren't too many longtime RBF fans. Too many people view ska as young kid's music, and while it will always have a young following, RBF's songs are songs that continue to relate to an older crowd. Their songs are quite often well above the heads of the 14 year-old kids that come to ska shows.
I feel like I've grown up with Reel Big Fish myself ("Sell Out" came out right about the same time I was getting my first "real job"), and it's too bad that longtime fans aren't coming to the shows.