Reel Big Fish

support Suburban Legends + The Skints + New Riot
author AP date 05/03/11 venue University, Southampton, UK

Editor's note: due to our trusted scribe BL falling ill, and our other Southampton based colleagues otherwise engaged, this review has been written by our mutual friend Stephen Bailey. The words, from this point on, are his. This evening's offering was the final stop in Reel Big Fish's tour of the United Kingdom before hitting the continent. And we were not left disappointed. As ever, I didn't even know that this gig was happening until about 2pm, but blame the Rockfreaks.net crew for that!

New Riot

New Riot start the evening as we all mean to go on: a manic riot of sound. Unfortunately this is to a crowd of about 20 people, whilst the remaining 400+ are left cooling their heels outside. A very solid performance; these guys fill the standard ska punk forms without error or hesitation. The sound takes cues from early Less Than Jake and has the energy to match; whilst the stagemanship takes cues from tour mates Suburban Legends, and includes such synchronised silliness as the band all bouncing in time on stage. As a finale, the band announce that the trombonist from Southampton ska punk legends Kids Can't Fly is joining the band - at which point the stage is flooded with as much of Suburban Legends as can fit.

8

The Skints

The Skints are the only band to break the 6-man formula this evening, and it seems to work, bringing a much more mellow reggae sound to the stage. However, at least initially, their positioning on the line-up is a litle confusing. After the manic start to the evening from New Riot, the much slower, groovier sound of The Skints can be seen as a relief, and whilst they build up to an awesome reggae punk finale, the momentum has already been lost. That being said, there is huge potential in this band - the combination of Marcia Richards' soft vocals and mastery of too many instruments alongside Jamie Kyriade's rhythms and harsher vocals. However, whilst you have got to feel sorry for the band being unable to finish the tour due to stolen passports, Joshua Water Rudges seems a little too earnest with the crowd, trying to guarantee an amazing last show - although the crowd does pull through for him.

Suburban Legends

More boy band than ska band, these chaps from Orange County, California, have masterful choreography to hide their pop-tastic sound, something that came unexpected for a Reel Big Fish main support act. As ever, when the brass wasn't playing, they would end up executing horrifically choreographed little dances that were fun to watch nonetheless. These guys are all about appealing to the fun-loving nature of the crowd, and that they manage. If you enjoy the more pop-oriented end of ska, definitely go see these guys live. Although the album material does lack some of the magic.

7

Reel Big Fish

By this stage the rooming is literally dripping with anticipation - this venue is one of the sweatiest I have ever been to. Such crowd pleasers as "Ban the Tube Top" and "She Has a Girlriend Now" are played as well as Reel Big Fish closing out on other bands and the fan favourite (judging from the crowd reaction) cover of A-Ha's "Take Me On!". In show activities include a lesson in how to do the ska dance, sometimes known as "skanking", which lets the band get their breath back between the whopping 23 songs played tonight - and put in the energy that we have all come to expect from such a fun-loving band. The crowd goes wild! Reel Big Fish have been beginning to show their age for a little while now, but even so the show is no disappointment. It may well be the same setlist it has been for the last few years, but it is still a fun show to see, and one that the crowds know and love. After all, Reel Big Fish have been around for so long they could play whatever they want, but they have long ago realised there is no point in playing songs no one knows the words to and can't join in. It is all about the party.

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