Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Reel Big Fish Show Review

The lights dimmed and cheers of “R.B.F.!” filled The Catalyst in Santa Cruz California.  The Reel Big Fish took the stage and got the night started with their classic from the 90’s, “Everything Sucks.”  The crowd needed no encouragement to start dancing as this upbeat song could get even the most gloomy person up on their feet.  The Orange County California natives kept things going with some fast passed ska songs such as “Trendy” and “Join the Club” before calming it down with “Slow Down.”  “It looked like you guys needed a break,” said lead singer and guitarist Aaron Barrett after finishing the song.  “Slow Down” provided a much-needed rest as the band kicked the energy right back up with a crowd favorite, “She Has a Girlfriend Now.”
During the ska instrumental “241,” three of the Reel Big Fish got to toot their own horns.  Trombonist Dan Regan, trumpet player John Christianson, and saxophonist Matt Appleton delighted the crowd with their skillful solos.  These three gentlemen kept the mood lighthearted throughout the evening with their catchy riffs in songs like “Snoop Dog Baby” and “Say Ten.” 
Apart from the great music, the Reel Big Fish kept the crowd entertained with their juvenile humor.  Before playing “She Has a Girlfriend Now,” Barrett told that crowd that “this song is for the girls, women, ladies, and females,” and that “if you fall into one of these four categories, this song is just for you.”  The group’s never ending supply of energy also kept the audience captivated.  On many occasions, the entire band would take a step back from the microphones and jump in unison.  Barrett would spin around while strumming chords and even played solos with his guitar behind his back.  And when Regan, Christianson, and Appleton weren’t busy singing or playing, they would bounce around the small Catalyst stage and even jump onto Ryland Steen’s kick drum. 
Towards the end of their set, the Reel Big Fish took their performance to the next level with their song “S.R.”.  Barrett strummed some chords in a reggae style, the entire band started jumping on the off-beat, and everyone in the Catalyst followed along.  Mimicking the band’s actions not only connected the fans to the musicians, but also made them a part of the performance.  Next, they went on to play the song in many different genres.  Before starting each new version, Barrett would tell the crowd what they should do for the new style.  Fans diligently obeyed as they formed a big mosh pit, square danced, and head banged to punk, country, and death metal renditions.  Not only did the band find a clever way to introduce each new version, but they also demonstrated their wide range of talent as musicians. 
The night finished up with their big hit, “Sell Out,” and a cover of “Take on Me” from 80’s pop band, A-ha.  The Reel Big Fish put on a great show full of bouncy horn riffs, never ending energy on stage, and all around great music.  The crowd interaction and comical personality of the band made the concert unforgettable.  With amazing music and an outstanding performance, the Reel Big Fish are a band that makes live music exciting.

Streetlight Manifesto Show Review

           The crowd was pumped up and ready to go.  Before the New Jersey septet took the stage, cheers of “Streetlight! Streetlight!” rang throughout the crowd and people were shoving each other around in preparation for what would become an hour and a half dance/mosh pit.  Streetlight Manifesto was greeted by nearly 1,000 thrilled fans and started the night with the energy filled “Watch it Crash.”  The crowd surged forwards, backwards, left and right, jumping and dancing to Streetlight Manifesto’s lively music.  The crowd was nothing short of energetic.  Mosh pits and crowd surges showed no signs of stopping as long as Streetlight Manifesto was in the spotlight. 
After their second song, “Failing, Flailing,” guitarist and lead singer Tomas Kalnoky drenched his fans by tossing out opened water bottles.  Because of the welcoming response the band received from the sweaty crowd, this act quickly became routine.  Streetlight Manifesto really connected with their fans when they let the roaring crowd take over lead vocals.  During the intro of “1234, 1234,” Kalnoky strummed the guitar chords as the crowd belted the familiar “whoa’s!”  During songs such as “Dear Sergio” the crowd actually overpowered Kalnoky.  It was obvious that the band enjoyed this, and seeing them smile on stage made the show that much more enjoyable.      
Other than a wild crowd and interaction with the fans, Streetlight Manifesto pleased the crowd with their crisp ska style.  With drumbeats and guitar chords that are played at lightning fast speeds, the band displayed their talent by not missing a single note.  In addition, Streetlight Manifesto is great at mixing two unlikely styles, punk rock guitar and a unique horn section.  For example, while playing “What a Wicked Gang Are We,” the distorted guitar unexpectedly complimented the baritone sax, tenor sax, trombone, and trumpet very well.  Each musician in this extensive horn section was also given a solo during songs like “We Will Fall Together” and “Somewhere in the Between.”  Streetlight Manifesto demonstrated their musicianship as their live music sounded identical to, if not better than their albums. 
The night ended with the fast paced “1234, 1234,” giving the crowd one last ska beat to get all their remaining energy out (if there was any left at all).  As the band left the stage, cheers of an encore were inevitable, but unfortunately unsuccessful.  These New Jersey boys had put on an amazing show and left Santa Cruz wanting more. 
It’s hard to imagine that anyone who has had the opportunity to see Streetlight Manifesto would not consider themselves a fan.  Through interacting with the crowd and demonstrating their raw talent as musicians, Streetlight Manifesto puts on a very exciting live show and gives off a good vibe.  But just a fair warning if you do decide to see them live, be ready for a crowd that will match the energy of Streetlight Manifesto’s music.