Do you ever listen to a band and immediately it takes you back to being 17? For me Reel Big Fish and Anti-Flag are two of those bands, and I doubt that will ever change. I mean, I’m not crazy, right? We all have a few bands that as soon as we hear them they instantly place us back in our past. I can still envision myself in plaid pants, chucks and this super crazy (but awesome) jean vest I used to wear. It was covered with band buttons, studs and everything else that screamed just how “punk rock” I really was. Because of that nostalgia I always jump at the opportunity to see a band that reminds me of my past, especially since half of those bands no longer tour anymore.
This was the 20th anniversary for both Anti-Flag’s “Die for the Government” album and Reel Big Fish’s “Turn The Radio Off”. I haven’t seen Anti-Flag probably since Warped Tour circa 2004. Now I do try to see Reel Big Fish every time they are in town. I’ve photographed at a few of their shows, in fact they were the first band that I ever had a “photo-pass” for. I love to look back and see how far my photos have come, and also to listen to some good tunes
The show opened with Direct Hit and I honestly felt pretty bad for them. The floor was mostly empty. I remember going to shows and if I didn’t know the bands who were opening I’d do a little research and check them out ahead of time instead of skip ‘em. You never know if you’ll find your next favorite band that way. It seems like this was a dying fad or maybe since most of the followers for Reel Big Fish or Anti-Flag are in their 30’s or 40’s now they don’t care too much about new music? Whatever it was, they really missed out. Direct Hit had an old-school pop punk sound much like Simple Plan meets Sum41. Check out their album “Wasted Mind” from Fat Wreck Chords.
The second act was “Ballyhoo” who I’ve also never heard of until Thursday evening. But, I have to admit that they may have a new fan for life. Not only was their energy amazing, they are really an ideal band to open up for Reel Big Fish. They have a ska sound to them, in fact some of their songs made me think of Sublime. Which, I found ironic because as I did some research on them after the show, I found out that they worked with Rome Ramirez from “Sublime with Rome.” You can check out their new single “Mixtape” on their website.
Once Anti-Flag came on they played “Die for the Government” in its entirety and I forgot that I knew all the words to every single song on this album. I think the last time I saw them perform was at Warped Tour in Camden about 10 years ago, probably wearing my outfit that I mentioned above. Their energy hasn’t changed at all, and they still put on a great show. My highlight was solely this set and the fact that I got to go back stage before the show during the sound check and interview Chris #2. It was great to pick his brain the day before the inauguration. If you follow the band, you know that they are very political, and if you don’t follow the band, well now you know. Be sure to look for the interview because it explains the reasoning behind their band name, some of their political stances and some questions about their music.
Last and certainly not least was Reel Big Fish. It’s what we came for right? “Turn Off The Radio” in its entirety. In my opinion 90’s babies have been waiting for this, well this and an N sync reunion, but we’ll take what we can get. I can’t even count how many times I’ve seen RBF live, and each time seems to be better than the last. They continue to bring the same energy; keeping their fans moving and singing right along to every single song. They never cease to amaze me, and like I mentioned earlier, they were the first band I ever had a photo-pass for so they will always hold a special place in my heart. Because if you asked me at the age of 17 if I’d be doing photos at concerts, I would have never even imagined it.