Music Reviews — 05 February 2013
Reel Big Fish at Brooklyn Bowl: A Concert Review

Reel Big Fish
Brooklyn Bowl, Williamsburg, Brooklyn
January 4, 2013

Concert Review: Reel Big Fish at Brooklyn Bowl

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The phenomenon of ska music may have been relatively short lived in the late 1990’s as a formulaic equation of pop meets punk. But as we fondly reminisce about the bands that made putting an arm behind your back and alternating rhythmically from foot to foot (‘skanking’) famous, it’s clear that they served as trailblazers for the catchy stylings toward which the punk music genre has evolved. Perhaps no band more effectively encapsulated the collaboration of pop plus punk plus horns section than Huntington Beach, California’s Reel Big Fish. And Monday night, the six piece touring act returned to New York City for an entertaining eighty minute set at Williamsburg’s Brooklyn Bowl. With the crushing of bowling pins drowned out by the thumping bass guitar and trombone, Reel Big Fish proved that despite a multitude of lineup changes over the years, their signature sound has not been lost.

Backed by a baby blue graffiti inspired background displaying the band’s moniker, frontman Aaron Barrett led the collection of talented musicians out to begin their set a full ten minutes early. Admittedly, we were still filing inside as the group launched into “Everyone Else is An Asshole,” the opening track from July’s “Candy Coated Fury,” the band’s seventh studio release. The relentless opener kicked the show off with a fury, encouraging fans to sing along to the catchy-as-hell choruses, a precursor for much of the songs encompassing this show. In a bit of a pleasant surprise, it’s encouraging to see that the band hasn’t lost sight of their roots, performing a majority of their hits from 1996’s “Turn the Radio Off.” The packed standing room space went wild for songs like “Trendy,” “She Has a Girlfriend Now,” and “Sell Out,” Reel Big Fish’s signature original number.

It certainly warrants mention that while many of the band’s peers have either disbanded or disappeared, the current iteration of Reel Big Fish both looks and sounds as fantastic as ever before. The intoxicating horns section repeatedly served as a catalyst for the Brooklyn audience, who responded passionately to each and every sax and trumpet note. Barrett meanwhile, to his credit, decked out in a flashy white blazer and sunglasses shrouding his thick sideburns and moustache, vocally hit every note required of him and then some, sounding perhaps even better than the band’s studio recording. The fast-paced and nostalgic “Beer” closed out the main set, following a titillating teaser of other alcohol inspired anthems. But it was show closer “Take On Me,” an a-ha cover tune, that really sparked up an already lively collection of faithful fans. And we stood shoulder to shoulder next to all of them- singing each word at the very top of our lungs.

While some artists may take themselves too seriously, a Reel Big Fish show is all about having fun. Sure, you might find some more thought provoking lyrics outside of songs like “Everybody’s Drunk” and “I Want Your Girlfriend,” but here, nobody’s asking you to stop and think about how these tunes make you feel. Instead, when the opening notes begin, it’s strictly instinctive to bounce around next to your energetic neighbors, smiling and dancing your ass off.

- Jane Van Arsdale

Reel Big Fish – Brooklyn Bowl, Williamsburg, Brooklyn
January 4th, 2013

1. Everyone Else is An Asshole
2. Trendy
3. Everything Sucks
4. She’s Famous Now
5. Your Girlfriend Sucks
6. All I Want Is More
7. Everybody’s Drunk
8. I Want Your Girlfriend
9. A Little Doubt…
10. Another Day in Paradise (Phil Collins Cover)
11. I Know You Too Well
12. Sell Out
13. Your Guts (I Hate ‘Em)
14. Good Thing
15. P.S. I Hate You
16. Where Have You Been
17. The Promise (When in Rome Cover)
18. She Has a Girlfriend Now
19. Another F.U. Song
20. In the Pit
21. Beer
22. Don’t Stop Skankin’
23. S.R.
24. Take On Me (a-ha Cover)

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