REEL BIG FISH @ Spectrum

By Marc Wiltshire - The Humpday Buffet - 04/20/05

A swarm of teenagers were roaming the Spectrum on April 20th to see one of the legions of Southern California’s ska-punk scene. If you’re not familiar with Reel Big Fish, then I’d like to know which cave you’ve been living in for the past eight years. In 1997, following the commercial success of their musical peers No Doubt and Sublime, Reel Big Fish broke through with their song “Sell Out”, which became an MTV favourite. Since then, they have maintained a constant style of ska mixed with punk and reggae, but their trademark is and always has been their juvenile and hyperkinetic behaviour on stage.

Whether you’re a Reel Big Fish fan or not, it’s hard to argue against their live performances. They charged up the Spectrum on with their high-energy and fun-loving music; it felt more like a college party than a concert, because more often than not, concerts are somewhat too formal. This may seem odd, but think about it in the sense that big venues don’t often carry the same intimacy as smaller venues, unless the band accentuates that vibe, and Reel Big Fish did just that. I personally just love when a band speaks to an audience and shares that moment with them, instead of only among themselves and occasionally saying “hello, how are you doing, this is this song…applause!”. Now don’t get me wrong, it isn’t the chit-chat that makes a great show, but I must say that it adds to the personal feel of the show, and makes the audience feel like they are partying with these guys as opposed to simply gawking at them. It also helps to see that the band members aren’t arrogant, or are so over-the-top arrogant to that you just laugh at them for being so conceited. That’s Reel Big Fish for you.

They started the show off with a classic fast-paced tune, bringing a lot of energy onto the stage and into the crowd and kept on going at that level throughout the show. It was one of the few times I went to see a concert by myself, and what surprised me was that I didn’t feel alone. Originally their music was designed for frat parties, and that’s kind of what it felt like. It was thoroughly entertaining to see these guys live, especially after watching Baseketball and laughing at their appearances in that movie. They continued to rock out with several new songs as well as classics from their older albums. The chemistry within the band made for great coordination, but I felt their songs eventually melded into one or two similar-sounding ones. Maybe I just haven’t listened to their music enough to tell the songs apart, but it seems repetitive at one point. Although this may have been the case for part of the show, I was delighted to hear them close with my favourite song -- although it’s a cover -- “Take On Me”. What was great was that they played it even better than I would have expected it. It left me satisfied enough to want to party some more afterwards, which is always sexy. All in all, it was a fun show to see. Their music is somewhat eclectic and it’s certainly great party music, but I wouldn’t get very far lighting a candle and listening to the lyrics in search of deeper meaning. It is perfectly suitable for a good party, just like their show was to me.

[Tune in to The Humpday Buffet Wednesdays noon to 2pm]