Release Date: 12.19.98
Record label: Reel Big Fish Love & Rockets
Genre(s): Country Western
Radicals, Flys, and Fish
by: bill aicher
Boy, oh Boy! A Christmas concert! Oooh and look at all the names on the bill! Two of the latest hit bands, one band who was gotten slack as sellouts for the last few years, and one of that has been around for YEARS.
The show went in this order : The New Radicals, The Flys, Reel Big Fish, Love and Rockets. I saw the first three but had to leave before L&R got onstage - so no review of them. In fact, I mostly went to review Reel Big Fish, but I will let you know what happened with the other two as well.
The New Radicals... Well I did like them - before I saw them live. My god! They have now surpassed Smashmouth as the worst live performance I have ever seen. The lead singer looked like a reject from the Backstreet Boys. He sang like he was trying to imitate Whitney Houston, going into off-key falsetto much more than any early metal band ever did. The crowd was not involved at all; he would sing directly to the speakers at the sides of the stage for extended periods of time. The only times he did try to involve the audience were weak. He would try to get the crowd all riled up and ready to rally. I did not know they were actually trying to be radical until I listened to their lyrics. It was kind of like a mix between Rage Against the Machine and Hanson. Basically it was terrible. No one in their right mind would write a song about credit card companies that want you to sign up for their service, and then have the gall to invoke a crowd uprising in its name. These guys suck.
If you read my review of The Flys Holiday Man album, you would know I really don't care for them much. Their live show helped out their placement in my book though. They are great at getting the crowd excited, much better than the New Radicals. The music was much heavier, and even though I do not really like their album, their live set did get me going. "Got You (Where I Want You)" was presumably the highlight of their show for some, but I preferred their closing number : a rousing rendition of Ozzy Osbourne's "Crazy Train." It fit well, seeing as how their little vocoder made the lead singer sound basically like Ozzy anyways. The guitar work on the song was superb, however what clinched it was the stage antics. The guitarist did his solo while another band member carried him on his shoulders. Bassist, James Book, ended the song by jumping off of the double-set of speakers down to the stage to hit the final note. Overall they impressed me. The vocoder got old after a while, but I can let it slide. I actually was amazed to see a band with two member who play no musical instruments - they made their keep with their vocals and energy though.
Ahhh... Reel Big Fish. It is too bad hard-core ska fans cannot face reality. Most of them hate Reel Big Fish for "selling out" and not being real ska. I really don't care. These guys have impressed me with both of their albums, and now with their live show as well. I had always heard they put on a great live set - I heard right. They had a massive amount of energy onstage, and the lead singer's lack of reservation to act his own age was great. It was excellent to see a band just let loose. They played an even amount of songs from both albums, including a cover of "Take on Me" by A-Ha (found on the BASEketball soundtrack). They ended their set with "Sell Out" which bothered me. I had hoped they would be past that, but I guess they needed to give the crowd what they wanted. There were problems with body passing, so I was hoping to hear "Thank You For Not Moshing" sadly, I was not to hear it. At least I did get to hear a Madison favorite - "Beer" - preceded by "Madison, isn't that the place where they like beer?" followed by a roar from the audience. You gotta love Reel Big Fish. Check them out sometime. They were the highlight of my night.