Reel Big Fish knows how to throw a party.
The Orange County outfit played more than two dozen upbeat ska meets post-punk tunes designed to keep young fans dancing, jumping and racing around the Grove of Anaheim on Tuesday night (July 31, 2007).
So although it has been 10 years since RBF scored its biggest hit (1997’s “Sell Out”), singer-guitarist Aaron Barrett (the only original member of the Huntington Beach-spawned outfit; co-founder bassist Matt Wong left the band earlier this year) and his group continue to mine the the ska universe with a hyper mix of vocals, keyboards, riff guitar and horn blasts.
Whether performing material off the newly-released “Monkeys for Nothin’ and the Chimps for Free” or hits such as “Beer,” “I Want Your Girlfriend To Be My Girlfriend Too,” “She Has a Girlfriend Now” and night-ending “Sell Out,” there is a calculated folly to the band’s approach that provides the perfect soundtrack for teens and young twentysomethings who want to get crazy in the pit.
That fun-minded formula of catchy phrases, infectious rhythms and self-effacing humor worked well across the 90-minute set, with the new original song “Party Down” and cover of a-ha’s “Take on Me” joining the abovementioned hits as clear favorites with fans.
Of the three opening acts, only Against All Authority was awful. The quartet’s songs were totally lacking anything that could be mistaken for melody and there was nothing that stood out in the 25-minute set. The quartet could have just played “Sweet Televised Destruction” over and over again and it would have had the same affect.
Anchored by a solid 4-man horn section, Streetlight Manifesto displayed a winning mix of punk, ska and reggae across 35 minutes.
Gainesville, Florida-based Less Than Jake displayed the like-minded approach of RBF to put on an entertaining show. While it was clear that the raucous audience participation (a “Price is Right” theme was used with audience members pulled up like contestants) and third wave ska-punk sounds of the band were a hit with the majority of fans in the sold-out crowd, the group’s songs lacked the distinctive songcraft displayed by Barrett and his band.