This Reel Big Fish article was written by Ben Malkin, a GIGsoup contributor. Edited by Zoe Anderson
Are you ready to party?
Whether it be for their energetic Ska Punk style, their overwhelming charisma or their outright entertainment value, Reel Big Fish managed to pack a horde of excited fans into the Library at Birmingham’s O2 Institute. As the number of attendees increased, it became apparent that this was going to be a wild night to remember; with diehard fans chanting for the band in anticipation, and the even more diehard fans getting excited for the band’s long-time support act, Suburban Legends.
Suburban Legends performed with just as much energy and humour as the headliners, if thats possible. With Brian Klemm’s guitar going through difficulties, lead singer Vincent Walker managed to fill time with some impressive improvisational vamping; taking questions from audience members (questions that were Disney-related, a nod from fans towards the band’s fondness for covering songs from Disney films), and then performing a birthday-related freestyle rap in honour of the band’s trombonist Brian Robertson. Reel Big Fish were a big influence on the formation of Suburban Legends, playing the same Ska Punk style, and these days, drummer Edward Larsen is amazingly playing with both bands.
The fact that they are so well known by Reel Big Fish fans allows them to have the audience in the palm of their hands, which is very enjoyable to see from a support act. Their stage presence is very theatrical; their dancing and general movement is very entertaining, with most audience members joining in with them. When playing their songs, the theatrics are very choreographed and in sync, yet so fitting and fun. As for the songs themselves, the big crowd-pleasers seemed to be covers of Neil Diamond’s ‘Sweet Caroline’ and ‘Under the Sea’ from the Little Mermaid.
And so, Suburban Legends finished their set, there was an approximate twenty-minute break, then ‘The Final Countdown’ by Europe started playing and Reel Big Fish made their way onstage. They then performed an instrumental version of said song themselves as a brief introduction. The fans went crazy as they officially kicked their set off with ‘Everyone Else Is an Asshole’, and then followed it up with a number of fan favourites, including signature songs ‘Sell Out’ and ‘Where Have You Been?’, and a few covers, including ‘Monkey Man’ by Toots & the Maytals and even a quick, comedic stab at Journey’s ‘Don’t Stop Believing’. Lead singer/guitarist Aaron Barrett is very charismatic; making jokes in between songs, sometimes sophomoric, sometimes self-deprecating, and the other members of the band often join in. The band are still incredibly tight and they’re sounding as good as ever; this includes the horn section, who were on fire throughout the whole set, and the rhythm section who got the audience moving, moshing, crowd-surfing, skanking and head-bopping constantly.
The band ended up walking offstage, teasing everybody that the show would conclude without them playing ‘Beer’ or their cover of A’ha’s ‘Take On Me’. But sure enough, they were back and they further teased the audience by introducing ‘Beer’ as a song about their favourite drink, but instead played other drink-related songs ‘Tequila’ and ‘Red Red Wine’. The song was then played – as was ‘Take On Me’ – and they both sounded great live, completing the experience and sending everyone home happy. Aaron Barrett and company have such a great skill for effortlessly making any concert memorable and special, and this one ticked both of those boxes. Everything that makes Reel Big Fish notable as a live band was on display, and it made for one hell of a party!
Reel Big Fish and their friends Suburban Legends blew the minds of their fans – both old and new alike – at the O2 Institute. I can even see people that are very casual to their sound enjoying them live. Reel Big Fish are such an entertaining live band and their stop-off in Birmingham was a great experience. Ska is a lot of fun live!