Reel Big Fish's trombone player Dan Regan (left) and vocalist Aaron Barrett. See more shots in our Reel Big Fish slide show.
Dear Reel Big Fish,
I never thought it would end like this, but I think we're gonna have to call it quits. After more than a decade, I don't think I can call myself a fan anymore.
As the old chestnut goes, it's not you, it's me. We've just outgrown each other and I've flat-out moved on from your snarky and self-deprecating ska-punk (as well as most third wave stuff in general). The smart-ass irony of songs like "Everything Sucks" or "Somebody Hates Me" just doesn't seem as clever anymore. I appreciate the "fuck you, we'll sing what we want" attitude, but it's just become tiresome.
Oh, I'll admit we've had a lot of fun together and I've got plenty of good memories. Like, how my buddies first introduced us when they first played your breakthrough disc Turn the Radio Off for me nearly a decade ago and gushed about "this awesome ska band from Orange County." It was also phenomenally cool watching rabid fans leap over the security barricades and mauling the band at Celebrity Theatre in 1997 during an encore version of "Sell Out."
Your music also got me through a lot of college-aged relationship drama with songs like "Beer" and "Skatanic" helping me deal with a few breakups. But I've long since graduated from ASU, and thus moved out of your primary demographic of teens and twentysomethings.
Watching you perform at the Marquee last night, I just felt that the thrill was gone. Sure, I sung along to a few songs ("She Has A Girlfriend Now," "Join the Club"), but I wasn't going to be one of "those guys" in their 30s who try mixing it up with the teenagers in the pit. (Plus, anyone older than 29 who attempts to skank should be shot, in my opinion).
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But honestly, Aaron Barrett's goofball stage persona and "clever" between-song banter with his bandmates just seemed pretty damn blah. He's also seemingly sporting the same mutton chops and Hawaiian shirt from decade ago. Just like I mentioned when I reviewed the Cherry Poppin Daddies show last week, what once was humorous is now kinda sad. Also, asking for someone to bring you a mixed drink may have been cool years ago, Aaron, but these day it's better when vocalists have the balls to go and get the booze themselves.
Besides, you guys have shitloads of younger high schoolers and college-aged fans that are way more into you than I'll ever be, as evidenced by the near sell-out crowd from last night. I don't think the Marquee has ever been as muggy from countless overheated bodies as it was during your show. They were just as rabid as any Reel Big Fish crowd I've ever seen, and were equally off-the-hinges for opening act Streetlight Manifesto, singing along to nearly every song the New Jersey ska-punk ensemble performed.
The Garden State ska-punks of Streetlight Manifesto.
But as far as awkward final dates go, this one wasn't too bad. At least it ended on something of a high note, with your raucous covers of Sublime's "Boss DJ" and A-Ha's "Take on Me."
Thanks guys. Now don't ever call me again. -- Benjamin Leatherman
Last Night: Reel Big Fish and Streetlight Manifesto at Marquee Theatre.
Better Than: Watching Skankin' Pickle attempt a comeback.
Personal Bias: I'm turning the radio off, I don't want no part.
Random Detail: Reel Big Fish had almost a dozen tee shirts for sale.
Further Listening: Propaghandi's "Ska Sucks"
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By the Way: The pizza girls out in the lobby were selling slices for just $1.
One More Thing: For you die-hard Reel Big Fish fans, here's the set list from last night...
2. I Want Your Girlfriend to Be My Girlfriend Too
3. The Bad Guy
4. Live Your Dream
5. She's Famous Now
6. Another F.U. Song
7. Kiss Me Deadly
8. She Has a Girlfriend Now
9. Ban the Tube Top
10. Authority Song
11. Good Thing
12. Your Guts (I Hate 'Em)
13. Don't Start a Band
14. Join the Club
15. You Don't Know
16. Somebody Hates Me
17. Where Have You Been
19. Boss DJ (encore)
20. Sell-Out (encore)
21. Take on Me (encore)
Photos by Luke Holwerda