Last Night: Reel Big Fish at House of Blues, Anaheim

The Show: I was taken aback by the energy of the sold-out crowd as the horn section blared during the show-starting tune “Trendy”. My last encounter with Reel Big Fish took place somewhere in the late '90s at a sold-out Hollywood Palladium show. Some things have changed over the years, but the fanbase is intact and seemed to be re-energized. The big fish, Aaron Barrett still had his swagger and witty jokes, with his dapper red jacket and checkered tie to match his pompadour, making him look like a cross between Morrissey and Elvis.


Reel Big Fish are all about having fun and cutting loose. A reaffirming song like “So Much For Rock and Roll” had the crowd gleefully singing along. This was quickly followed by “Another F.U. Song” whose lyrics are self explanatory. Aaron would later quip that Reel Big Fish had “lots of hits…that we cover” before teasing the crowd with half of Metallica's “Enter Sandman”. 

Ska shows seem to be rowdier these days. During “Suckers” the security staff had their hands full with crowd surfers and a fight that broke out nearby. Karen–one name only, please–from Chase Long Beach came out to do the vocal parts of “She Has A Girlfriend Now,” which kept the audience skanking along. Brian Klemm from Suburban Legends–in full, flamboyant hair metal attire–did a guest spot on guitar for “Good Thing” and “Your Guts”. Reel Big Fish ventured back into cover territory with a horn-filled rendition of of Poison's “Nothin' But A Good Time”. 

The real Reel Big Fish hits came during the conclusion of their set with “Beer” and “Sell Out”. For the encore, It was still amazing to see the young crowd sing along to every word of the A-Ha's 1980s classic “Take On Me”–and attempt to hit the high falsetto notes. Even when the curtains were closed, One couldn't help but chuckle when they continued to play a few notes of Scorpions “Rock You Like A Hurricane.” It is refreshing to see Reel Big Fish continue to survive almost twenty years in a shark infested music industry.

Show openers Starpool could have used a longer time slot as they had the audience in the palm of their hand, performing a mix of their solid ska punk tunes and a faithful cover of Otis Day N The Knights “Shout.” In a swan song of sorts, Chase Long Beach annouced their lead singer Karen was leaving the band. That didn't prevent a female fan from heckling their performance. What happened to girls looking out for each other?  

The Crowd: Lots of underage wristbands were spotted at the twenty person deep merchandise line at the Reel Big Fish table. Didn't see as many Hawaiian t-shirts as I did back in the '90s Reel Big Fish shows.  

Overheard: I wasn't the only ska fan feeling nostalgic. One patron mentioned, “I wish I could go see Goldfinger in concert.” I didn't want to tell the guy Goldfinger recently played the Grove of Anaheim in August of 2008.  

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