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Reel Big Fish provide tacky, fun concert experience

Published: Friday, February 8, 2013

Updated: Friday, February 8, 2013 11:02

To this day Reel Big Fish’s live album — “Our Live Album is Better than Your Live Album” (2006) — is definitively their best. They produced their first album “Turn the Radio Off” in 1996 and in the past ten years Reel Big Fish has rereleased old material every six months as an excuse to tour incessantly, because it’s absolutely true that their live album is most likely better than yours.

Reel Big Fish employs all the familiar tricks that keep pre−teens standing in line at their concerts and dancing in their first mosh pits. On principal, the Fish gloss over their new material, only playing two songs off their new album. Aaron Barrett jokes lightly that “She’s Famous Now,” a crowd favorite, is about his ex−girlfriend Gwen Stefani. As is to be expected, they do horn intros and outros between songs — the Star Wars theme song seems to be a hit with younger audiences. Aaron Barrett has played each guitar solo so many times over that he faces the crowd shredding them behind his back. The catchy nature of novelty songs like “Trendy,” “Your Guts (I Hate ‘Em),” “Beer” and “Take on me” are crowd favorites as always. Even the many versions of the song “S.R.” prove the band is made of entertainers. Rattling off the death metal, bluegrass and disco adaptations of the same song, they still have strangers slamming into each other, locking arms to square dance or making embarrassingly cliched moves. They typically do a ska cover of a recent pop song as a joke — this year it’s “Call Me Maybe” last year it was “I Kissed a Girl.” Even though only three original members remain in the band, every song sounds exactly like it does on the album, down to the note. It’s everything you’d expect, almost to a fault.

At an RBF show the mosh pits are the main attraction. They’re undeniably accepting. You can count on people pushing you down, picking you up and if you ask around, buying you a beer. Skanking is a must. A ska show really is, as I’ve confirmed with all of my ska friends, the place to be if you don’t know how to dance. Unlike other pits, the circle there is more common, shoving is light and nobody aims for the head. Still, it’s not somewhere to go if you don’t want to get thrown around.

If you’re looking for something inspired, a Reel Big Fish concert isn’t what you’re looking for. It’s tacky, it’s slapstick and it’s quirky, in all the best ways. It’s definitely been rehashed but, if you’re a little bit angry, you want to hear something catchy and you never had a punk phase, you should definitely see them at least once in your life. You can make some of your best friends at their shows. You won’t trade the memories you make at their shows for anything.

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