February 9, 2016 Reel Big Fish Tear Up The Paramount Huntington, NY 2-1-16 w/ The Maxies & Suburban Legends
When it comes to Ska music, there might be no bigger name than Huntington Beach, Californians Reel Big Fish. Fronted by Vocalist/Guitarist Aaron Barrett, the band has seen many faces change in their lineup through the year, but has consistently pumped out catchy tunes while seeing their fan base grow in the process. Over two decades into their career, Barrett is now joined by John Christianson, a.k.a. Johnny Christmas, on trumpet/vocals, Derek Gibbs on bass/vocals, Matt Appleton, a.k.a. Saxel Rose, on saxophone/vocals, Billy Kottage on trombone/vocals, and Edward Larsen on drums/vocals. The six men wall of sound has been touring extensively for the last few years following the release of their eighth studio album in 2012, Candy Coated Fury. Continuing to stay very active in the Winter of 2016, Reel Big Fish team up with The Maxies and Suburban Legends to bring the masses some Ska music to help warm them up from the cold temperatures.
Three bands which become very familiar with each other throughout the years, they toured together in 2012 alongside Goldfinger and Big D and the Kids Table. The Maxies also toured with Reel Big Fish in 2011, and all three toured again in 2014. In addition, each band has also appeared on each others work; lending vocals on albums, appearing in music videos, and Reel Big Fish’s Barrett even occasionally dons the Maxies Polar Bear mascot outfit as well as plays guitar for the band. Together, this three-headed monster opted to kick off February on Long Island, New York at The Paramount down in Huntington Village Monday, February 1st, for a fun night of music.
First up was Nuuk, Greenland’s Punk Rock band known as The Maxies. Each of the six members going under a stage name proudly approached the stage to be offensive and obscene. Comprised of Maximum Maxie (vocals), Donny Debauchery (guitar/vocals), All The Way Jay (guitar/vocals), Mad Maxie (bass/vocals), Chrissy Pissy (keyboards/vocals), and Climaxie (drums), the band is considered by many of their fans to be the supervillains version of The Aquabats. This is due to their onstage antics and the outfits they perform in, including masks and matching colors. Adding to the excitement, before The Maxies began their set, a lucky audience member was pulled from the crowd to join them later in the act.
As the men donned in red and white joined the stage and pumped up the crowd, they announced to the fans for the first time of many that they were from Greenland. The song “Back Home in Greenland” was a great reminder of that fact as spectators continued to arrive at the venue as the energy level picked up rapidly. Finishing the song, Maximum Maxie asked everyone if they were ready to see the other bands of the night. He then purposefully called the bands by the wrong name over and over again, playfully saying “Reel Bad Fish” or “Reel Old Fish.” They then continued the music with “It Ain’t No Fun,” a track, regardless of its title, that kicked the fun into gear at The Paramount. Joined on the stage by the fan pulled earlier, now dressed in the finest of beer bottle costumes, along with a bear lovingly referred to as Bi-Polar Bear Tom, The Maxies treated the stage as their own party space. Maximum Maxie kept the tongue-in-cheek attitude introducing their next song, again poking fun at Reel Big Fish, by saying, “We have something Reel Big Fish hasn’t had in years… a hit!” That hit he is referring to is “Ann Marie,” which reached number 1 in Norway as a free download.
The shenanigans continued with “My Girl is a Lesbian” before the band ask if there were any fans in attendance celebrating a birthday. This brought the attention to one excited fan before Maximum Maxie exclaimed, “Happy Birthday! You’re a Dick!,” as the band began playing the song by the same name. Going on to play “Clubbin’,” a track about clubbing seals, Maximum Maxie had some more fun, leaving the stage to get closer to the fans at the barricade. Taking a moment to slow things down and romance a female attendee, Maximum Maxie serenaded the girl with his own naughty version of All 4 One’s “I Swear.” Playing “Sandy,” they later closed out with “My Band Is Better Than Your Band” as the crowd laughed and sung along. The dastardly villains of the night finished up their set to a huge applause, having turned the crowd to the dark side. The Maxies continue to tour with Reel Big Fish throughout February, proving to be a lovable thorn in everyone’s side. The band’s onstage antics are sure to attract new fans not familiar with them. The band’s most recent album, Greenland is Melting, is available and a worthy purchase for anyone looking for some Punk with spunk.
Up next was California’s Suburban Legends. The band’s current touring lineup consists of Vincent Walker (lead vocals), Chris Lucca (trumpet), Brian “Robot” Robertson (trombone), Brian Klemm (lead guitar), Brad Polidori (bass), and Joshua Hatfield (drums). Growing year to year, the band has enjoyed adding many layers to their sound, including hints of Pop and Disco infused into their Ska origins. Even better are their enjoyable covers of Disney themes that can be heard throughout their sets. The band’s nearly twenty years in the scene has boasted an impressive list of albums and EPs, with their most recent being 2015’s Forever in the Friendzone. With that in mind, they came to the stage with a wealth of content to entertain, as well as some fancy dance moves to captivate the Long Island crowd.
Opening with “Just Be Happy,” Suburban Legends quickly burst out with energy to spare. Barreling through, “My Friend” picked up the pace as fans danced along and a mosh pit began to open. Dancing and jamming out, Robertson and Polidori entertained fans by joining together on stage to play each other’s instrument as well as their own at the same time. Going into the first of a few Disney covers, they went into their rendition of 1995’s Toy Story theme “You’ve Got a Friend in Me.” The song gave even casual fans a chance to sing along before the band continued into the cut called “Forever In the Friend Zone.”
After treating the crowd to “Bright Spring Morning,” Suburban Legends went into their Golden Girls tribute. As the song came to an end, Suburban Legends pulled out another trick, inviting Christi of local radio station 94.3 FM The Shark to the stage. She took some time to thank everyone for coming out and before she had a chance to walk off, Walker grabbed a guitar, allowing Klemm a chance to sing. This is when the band told a story of a missed opportunity involving Christi during their 2014 visit to Long Island, thus insisting she stay on stage as they sung their cover of 1989’s The Little Mermaid track “Kiss The Girl.” Coming to a close, the crowd chanted for a kiss to which Klemm and Christi shared a kiss that seemed to surprise Christi.
After a short recess to gain his senses, Klemm returned to guide the band through their cover of Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline,” which provoked a loud sing along. As the song hit its finale, Klemm proclaimed that he typically dives into the crowd as the song ends, but was worried the barrier was set back further than usual. After being egged on by his bandmates and the crowd, Klemm took advantage of a drumroll by Hatfield to dive over security and into his fans. As he made his way back on stage, the group continued on with their variant of 1994’s The Lion King song “Just Can’t Wait To Be King” to give everyone another chance to sing along. The joy continued with Suburban Legends originals “Come Back Home” and “Warrior.” Matching the energy level of the room, the band entertained fans with fun dance routines throughout their performance, ranging from simple side steps in unison all the way to a complete robot routine.
As the set neared the end with “High Five,” local Punk hero Joe Ragosta of Patent Pending joined Suburban Legends on stage to join in on the festivities. This came before the show finally concluded with a cover of Queen’s “We Are The Champions” before goading the crowd to help a fan dressed as a cow to crowd surf. One entertaining show, Suburban Legends sadly announced late December of last year that their current 2016 tour with The Maxies and Reel Big Fish would be their last tour ever, but then left the door open to the possibility of more after their upcoming hiatus. With their future uncertain, fans are highly encouraged to see their energetic and highly enjoyable live show.
As the packed theater anxiously awaited Reel Big Fish, the band chose to cover Europe’s “The Final Countdown” as their introduction. Right from the start, the band captivated the crowd as they then rocked into “Everything Sucks.” From this point, the most pit began to open as a steady stream of crowd surfers began to form. Thanking fans in attendance for coming to the show, Reel Big Fish rolled forward with 1996’s “Alternative Baby,” before continuing on with 1998’s “The Kids Don’t Like It.” As the crowd sang along with the chorus of “no no’s,” the band soaked up the excitement and participation. Then Barrett proudly proclaimed, “Hey kids! It’s time to use the ‘f’ word!,” and the band kicked matters up a notch with “Another F.U. Song.”
Stimulating a more amplified response with each passing tune, “Don’t Start a Band” came before “Trendy,” “Your Guts (I Hate ‘Em),” and “The Set Up (You Need This).” Trumpet player Christmas took some time to have fun with the crowd, raising his hand high in the air to encouraged everyone to get even louder. He continued to rapidly do this, enjoying the fans struggling to follow along with his speed. Back into the music, after playing “Ban the Tube Top,” the guys asked the crowd for their suggestion on a new cover they were working on. After playing the first few verses of a cover of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’,” the band stopped and Barrett mentioned that they had not decided on a tempo they want to play the song yet. A delightful rendition, as the Classic Rock tune came to an end the band moved on with more originals such as “All I Want is More” and “I Know You Too Well To Like You Anymore.” As the extended setlist continued, so did the fun as they played on with “She Has a Girlfriend Now” and “Cheer Up.” The ironically named “Thank You for Not Moshing” was next on the agenda, though it did not stop the fans from tearing it up on the Paramount’s dance floor. After “Where Have You Been,” Reel Big Fish offered another cover in the form of Van Morrison’s “Brown Eyed Girl” as many sang along.
Keeping the party going with “I Want Your Girlfriend to Be My Girlfriend Too,” they then chose to toy with the crowd thereafter. Barrett took to the microphone to claim that they were going to end with the big song from the ’90s that they were famous for. The band then broke into the opening notes of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” complete with a horns section thrown in. Before what would be the opening lines to the Nirvana classic, the band stopped playing as Barrett proudly exclaimed, “just kidding! We all know that’s Pearl Jam!” Choosing to continue the fun, the band went on to play Lit’s “My Own Worst Enemy” with the crowd singing along with the opening lyrics. As the chorus ended, the band stopped and Barrett once again took to the microphone, happily saying, “We wish we wrote that song! We would have made hundreds of dollars!” Then, attempting to fool the crowd a third time, the band began playing The Mighty Mighty Bosstones’ “The Impression That I Get.” As the joke came to an end again, Barrett again grabbed the microphone saying, “No, that’s Less Than Jake.” After one last laugh from the audience, the band chimed in with their own 1990’s hit “Sell Out,” to which ignited a wildly positive response.
As with any great performance, the fans loudly awaited an encore, not letting up at all until the band rejoined on stage. While most bands will come back to treat the fans to a song or two, Reel Big Fish came back with a four song combo sure to send anyone home happy. Returning, they guided the crowded into an “Ole’ Ole’!” chant. Barrett thanked the crowd before saying, “This song is called ‘Everyone Else Is An Asshole’… Except you guys, you’re cool.” As the encore began, the crowd quickly resumed where they had left off with the mosh pit and crowd surfing both picking up quickly as they went into “Beer.” Paying homage to the ’90s once more, the band chose to play one more cover, this time in the form of The Offspring’s “Self Esteem.” Giving everyone one more chance to sing along, they ended the night playing their cover of A-Ha’s big ’80s classic “Take On Me” before expressing their gratitude for the overwhelming enthusiasm showered on them.
Seeing a Reel Big Fish show live transcends the Ska genre. The party-like atmosphere is infectious and impossible to ignore. The band continues their 2016 Winter Tour, warming up fans venue after venue through February 23rd. When the tour comes to an end, Reel Big Fish will set their eyes on March 20th as they lead the Skanking Reggae Festival in Los Angeles. With that in mind, taking part in a show of theirs should be on any music fan’s bucket list.