After nearly 20 years together as a band (ok so there have been a few lineup changes through the years), third wave ska greats Reel Big Fish prove that they still suck, and by that I mean they are still rocking stages, gaining fans, and pleasing them. If you’re confused, read on, and even if you’re not confused, read on.
Reel Big Fish brought some friends along for this summer tour. Indiana’s Rodeo Ruby Love were the first to take the stage and are opening the whole tour. The lead singer stated that Hampton Beach had been the best crowd surfing crowd thus far in the tour. RRL have a ska rock sound without the horns with both female and male vocals. Unfortunately for them some of the fans didn’t seem to be as into it as they had hoped, although there were plenty of people praising them after the show and buying merchandise. Their sound doesn’t fit punk ska perfectly, but it works well for a summer tour and a change of musical scenery.
Next band to take the stage was London England’s New Riot, they had more of a traditional third wave punk ska sound similar to Mustard Plug and Less Than Jake. They were much more aggressive and intense with their delivery of the music. Guitar player Drew brought out a boogie board and even surfed the crowd. Not sure it was dense enough but it brought more energy to the set. The whole floor was moving and moshing along with mo-hawked lead singer and guitarist Tommy T, who wields a bulls eye Zakk Wylde style guitar. These guys came all the way from the UK, go see them if you get the chance.
Now was the time for co-headlining band Streetlight Manifesto’s turn at the crowd. After being primed up by two very decent yet contrasting bands the crowd was ready for them. People were chanting “Streetlight” five minutes before their set had begun. They played songs from their entire catalog including “Dear Sergio,” from their remake of Catch 22’s third wave ska classic album Keasbey Nights (see video), and a tremendous cover of The Postal Service’s “Such Great Heights.” Performing for a little over an hour, they set the bar very high for the Fish.
Then came time for the veteran “sell outs” to play. It was not surprising that they came out strong and while they may not have surpassed the energy and excitement of Tomas Kalnoky and his crew in Streetlight Manifesto, they at least met it. Playing all the staples from their best albums like “Everything Sucks,” “She has a girlfriend now,” “S.R,” and “Sell Out.” They also played a very energetic version of Van Morrison’s Brown Eyed Girl that had everyone in the place off the floor.
Although their set was pretty run of the mill except for a rarity or two, most notably the song “241,” from their breakthrough album Turn the Radio Off. These guys never seem to get old and their music is always fun. They are pretty straight forward and don’t pull any punches when it comes to their live set. Tonight they play Boston’s House of Blues, right outside of Fenway Park. Go catch a Red Sox game and then stick around to see this great line up of rock and ska music. Reel Big Fish prove that third wave ska isn’t dead. Definitely a tour worth seeing when it comes to your area. Stay tuned for more photos.
You can get to the Boston House of Blues easily from Hampton Beach by by going South on 95 to 93 South to Storrow Drive Fenway park area. Or, the Green line Kenmore or Fenway stop.