Reel Big Fish

support Streetlight Manifesto + Ill Young Skill
author TL date 06/02/08 venue Loppen, Copenhagen, DEN

It's a cold day in early February, it's about 8 in the evening and on these latitudes it's both dark and pretty God damn cold. I'm standing outside of Loppen in the free town of Christania, in the eastern end of Copenhagen, outside of Loppen - reflecting on my recently finished interview with Reel Big Fish. After a couple of beers, the friend I've been waiting for arrives and after a couple more, we head inside. Checking out the merch and having yet a couple of beers, we hardly notice how many people are making their way into the venue, and it's not till we sit down next to the stage that I realize that I've probably never seen so many people in Loppen, including when Razorlight played here back in 2006.

Anyway, enough of introductions, eventually the local boys from Ill Young Skill take the stage, and to begin with they're composed only of a standard rock setup of guitarist, bassist, drummer and vocalist. Now I've never heard about this band before tonight, so you've got a long wait ahead of you if you want a setlist, but I can tell you that the guys play an upbeat reggae with lyrics that seem clearly influenced by the nationally famous rub'a'dub outfit Bikstok Røgsystem. They keep it simple, they keep it catchy and they keep it drenched in infectious reggae grooves. On top of that they add hired help to the stage one by one, so by the end of the show there's a couple of horns and a keyboard player on stage as well and the set's gotten more ska by the song. Vocalist Morten Nygaard is charismatic in a strange way and with a seemingly eager band behind him, he manages to surround us all with a thick and good mood before the headliners get on. I recommend checking out especially the live tracks on the band's myspace to see what I'm talking about.

In spite of Ill Young Skills' good performance the increase in crowd-density leading up to Streetlight Manifesto's appearance is clearly noteable, and it seems that a good half of the people who've shown up tonight are at the very least as interested in seeing the former Catch 22 guys and their new mates. I'm no expert on Streetlight either but "We Will Fall Together" is clearly recognizeable as the opener and from the moment it begins, there's intense skanking all over the place and for the next many songs it's not stopping for a second. While this conduct is somewhat more friendly to your body than moshing, the way people have been crammed in here tonight makes sure we all feel the wear soon enough. Meanwhile, Streetlight isn't missing a beat, taking little time to mess around between songs, delivering their trademark sound as well and clear as anyone could hope to expect. The mood Ill Young Skill brought to the venue is thickening by the song, and everything would be hunky dory if it wasn't for the fact that Loppen has taken a very annoying measure towards controlling the large amount of people; Namely putting up two guys on each side of the stage designated to look scary and basically threaten people that fly into other people, regardless of whether or not they did it on purpose or got pushed themselves. Frankly I think it's pretty idiotic considering how the front line of a rock show might just not be the smartest place to be, if you don't like being pushed, but for now I choose to bear with this whole thing, and at least Streetlight's effort can't be discredited for any of it.


Now I didn't think Loppen could possibly become any more crammed, but by the time Reel Big Fish make it on stage it's already getting ridiculous. There are FAR too many people in the room and everyone is of course eager to see the reknowned Fish. So when they open their show with the smash hit "Sell Out" it takes all of two seconds to turn Loppen into a disaster. The two watch dogs quickly decide it's time to take position IN FRONT OF THE BAND(!!!) in order to stop people from constantly stumbling on stage, and they're still keeping busy threatening and removing anyone who might, accidentally or not, hit anyone with a force they deem to be too much. To Reel Big Fish's credit, they don't seem to bee too phased by this and they calmly try to dismantle the situation in between crowd hits like "Another F.U. Song" and "New Version Of You" by asking people to take steps back. Unfortunately there's no room behind people either, and I quickly choose to retreat in order to actually be able to focus more on what's happening on stage than on my own survival rate. From a distance (sitting on the wardrobe, the only place in the venue that's left free), it seems that most people are so hellbent on having a good time, in spite of Loppen's watchmen still obstructing their view and the complete lack of space, that there's no way they're going anywhere. All the while Aaron remembers to ask if there's any questions between songs and to introduce "She Has A Girlfriend Now" as "the song about the girl who left him for another girl", much to the amusement of everyone, and generally the guys are living up to their reputataion and spreading much happiness with each and every "honk" of the horns. "Don't Start A Band" and "Another Day In Paradise" get things even more explosive before the singalongs reach absolutely massive levels on set closer "Beer".

Of course it isn't over with that though, and the Fish comes back and launches into "Trendy" and "I Want Your Girlfriend To Be My Girlfriend" and people dig out their last strength to celebrate it. Then after "S.R." Aaron proclaims that "Reel Big Fish are the masters of ALL musical styles" and then proceeds to lead the band in repetitions of the song, only in respectively punkrock, jazz, disco and death metal and if there's a soul in here who can help but to smile at this, God help them because they must be dead. Finally the Fish loosens their grasp of the much enduring crowd after playing their cover of "Take On Me", and I find it hard to believe that anyone would say the band didn't deliver what trumpet player John promised in the interview earlier that day; "A good time, ALL of the time!". I was however still pissed off about how Loppen couldn't figure out a better way to ensure safety than by obstructing my view of the band with two nazi guard-type guys (say by maybe not selling more tickets than your venue can handle) but again, the band can hardly be blamed for this, and if you get an opportunity to see Reel Big Fish, you'll honestly be an idiot to miss it


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