Reel Big Fish House of Blues June 29, 2014
Nostalgia is all the rage these days, but not just today. For some time, people have been looking to the past to gain current happiness in their lives. Whether the '80s are the focus, or the '60s or the '20s or even as far back as the Middle Ages, people are constantly seeking out the past to escape the monotony of everyday life.
Currently it's the '90s, a decade far enough removed from current culture, but easily remembered by most people to be the latest focus of nostalgia's lens. Big hair and flashy outfits, the growth of hip-hop, pop-punk and ska, technology, and all-around larger-than-life personas made the '90s stand out, and now people are eating it up all over again.
Thanks to the ol' Internet, it makes nostalgia that much easier to take in. Whether dusting off clips of Saved By the Bell; listening to Sublime, 311 and Dave Matthews; wearing clothes that might look a little goofy on you (see mom jeans); we are all taking it in so much that it's become somewhat of a phenomenon.
But who are we to really know how much better those times were? We only see the glamorized moments of the past, but don't really sit down and realize how much more work everyone in life has had the further back you go. So here we sit in current time, with our mobile Internet devices and fast anything, wishing we were back there: listening to bands, watching television and playing games that we used to love. But what we don't realize is that we fell out of love with those things in the first place for a reason.
And that brings us to House of Blues Sunday night, where '90s ska-punk outfit Reel Big Fish took the stage. While quite older-looking, they were still doing their thing like it was 1996. Like, nothing had changed besides the amount of wrinkles on the members' faces.
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But thankfully, they were still good, and very high energy. After 20 years of playing the same songs, you would hope they'd be good, but they weren't just solid in a "we play these songs every night" type of way, but in a "we still love these songs that we play every night" type of way.
It would have been a major disappointment if they didn't care. For a band to survive through the crap-rock and indie-filled 2000s, playing the same horn-infused pop-punk that fell out of style quickly and became that screamo/emo bullshit bands have been hawking ever since is actually quite impressive.
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The fact that Reel Big Fish never gave up what they were doing, and continued on thanks to events like the Warped Tour and every little stoner kid's obsession with Sublime and the culture that surrounds it, says a lot about them as a band. The Bosstones didn't make it (Dickey is now the announcer on Jimmy Kimmel); neither did Buck-O-Nine. Cherry Poppin' Daddies? Lol. The only reason No Doubt stayed big is because of Gwen Stefani's pop career that spanned the entirety of the 2000's (and that she's way hot).
But Reel Big Fish never gave up. And they're assuredly gaining steam with the huge sense of '90s nostalgia as of late.. Hell, because of it I even bought Turn the Radio Off on vinyl last night despite its hefty $30 price tag. That's both '90's and '50s/'60s/'70s throwback. Mixed nostalgia, I like to call it.
But past all the nostalgia, RBF still sounded good. Their horns-first approach combined with the familiar punky guitar chopping and dub-style bass brought to life a crowd that was a bit suspect at first. Bobbing heads and tapping feet quickly became circle pits and crowd-surfing, and the amassed audience showed the band why they continue to do this.
And for that, the kiddos giving their all on the floor were awarded with a greatest-hits set that included the ever-so-popular "Sell Out," the song that put RBF on the map, as well as run-through's of "Beer," "SR," "She Has a Girlfriend Now," "Everything Sucks" and "Trendy," as well as well-chosen covers from their peers in the Offspring ("Self Esteem") and Sublime ("Garden Grove), and their non-peers with pop megahit "Call Me Maybe" and a show-closing version of Aha's "Take On Me."
While their set list didn't differ much from the one in Dallas the night before, which seems to be the trend for bands as they start to get older, the aged group still put on an exciting show. I just wish that I could have seen them in their heyday, when they'd play what they wanted rather than just working on down the list. I also wish I could have seen them back then, because younger me would have definitely been deep into that circle pit.
Personal Bias I have many years of skanking experience in my past.
The Crowd: A lot of music nerds, to be honest. And a wealth of kids, all of whom were in the pit.
Overheard In the Crowd: "I need everyone to ever so kindly and gently... MAKE A HUGE FUCKING CIRCLE PIT!!" said lead singer Aaron Barrett, obviously displeased by the lack of one.
Random Notebook Dump Ska in the '90s is like indie-rock now. It flirted with mainstream success, but then eventually tapered off into oblivion.
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