It’s the beginning of the year, so you know what that means… It’s time for Reel Big Fish’s annual takeover of the UK, and, this time round, the ska legends have brought Big D and the Kids Table and Sonic Boom Six with them.
The UK’s own Sonic Boom Six kick the night off, and while the crowd lack movement, this is hardly reflective of what is happening on stage, as the band flawlessly showcase their eclectic and highly energetic mash up of punk, ska, and hip-hop. A setlist predominately City of Thieves heavy with the likes of Back 2 Skool, Strange Transformations, and Through The Eyes of a Child, with the latter featuring a sample of The Skints’ “Get Me!”, a nice little nod to their fellow Rebel Alliance Recordings label mates.
After nearly a two year absence of the UK, which has saw Big D and the Kids Table lose members, gain members, and even create a new genre, they are at long last back over as they proceed to greet the crowd with the raucous Noise Complaint. One great thing about Big D is that they can effortlessly pull off aggressive ska-punk tunes like LAX while also playing more mellow songs such as Shining On – although, Strictly Rude kind of falls on deaf ears. With a new album under their belt, Fluent In Stroll, it’s a joy to finally hear the likes of Doped Up Dollies On A One Way Ticket To Blood and Not Fucking Around. The new addition of their two female backing vocalists (or ‘doped up dollies’) create an exciting and refreshing dimension to the band live, as their vocals playfully contrast with frontman Dave McWane’s; an all-round fun performance, which ends with their obligatory Specials cover Little Bitch pumping the crowd up for tonight’s headliners.
When a band starts off with two of their biggest hits, Sell Out and Trendy in the case of Reel Big Fish, and still manages to have the crowd engaged, singing word-for-word throughout, it really is a true testament to the band’s 20-year career and discography, explaining why they can come back year after year and sell out venues, even without the aid of a new release. This band and their songs are timeless.
While the setlist is somewhat predictable and there is almost a sense of déjà vu when Sonic Boom Six frontwoman Laila K lends her vocals to She Has a Girlfriend Now á la 2008, it’s still just as fun. In another guest appearance, we see Brian Klemm, of Big D and the Kids Table and Suburban Legends fame, come out in Speedos and a comedic wig to take over guitar duties, allowing frontman Aaron Barrett to roam around freely on stage during Good Thing.
Following their ever-so popular cover of Take On Me, spawning the biggest sing-a-long and skanking session of the night, the encore sees the self-proclaimed “masters of all styles” perform an amusing medley of S.R. in the genres of punk, reggae, death metal, disco, and country.
Two decades on, it is clear that the band are as tight as ever, with Barrett’s faultless vocals, combined with their as-always charismatically chirpy performance, and hilarious on-stage banter, smiles are left on the faces of all who attended and you can guarantee every one of them will be back for the band’s inevitable return next year.
– Faye Turnbull.
Keep checking back for our interviews with Reel Big Fish and Big D and the Kids Table, as well as photos of the show!