LIVE: Reel Big Fish @ Rose Theatre

By Mark Gadong

So here we are, for the very first gig at a venue that isn’t traditionally used for music, The Rose Theatre in Kingston. There’s a real sense of ‘will it work out right?’ but The Rose is completely packed out downstairs so there’s no doubt here tonight.

Reel Big Fish (and chips) come triumphantly out to ‘Everyone Else Is An Asshole’, an incredibly energetic number from their most recent album ‘Candy Coated Fury’. Everyone in the room is instantly happy and having fun. Is there any band like RBF that can instantly bring this much happiness that quick?

There’s an amazing vibe in The Rose tonight – even from an OG like me, it was actually refreshing to be at a ‘ska’ gig, for maybe the first time in about 5 years. RBF have such a rich back catalogue that they just keep batting out the hits. ‘Trendy’, ‘Thank You For Not Moshing’, ‘She’s Famous Now’ all keep the frantic pace up. I find myself remembering the lyrics to songs I haven’t sung in ages – and you know what? I still love it.

There’s not much speaking in between songs here, but that’s no problem at all as there’s more time to fit in even more awesome songs. Emma from The Jellycats adds some guest vocals on ‘I Know You Too Well To Like You Anymore’ sending the crowd nuts. The energy is just relentless.

‘Hiding In My Headphones’ and ‘S.R’ give the crowd a brief chance to chill, before ‘Sell Out’ and ‘Beer’ take the pace to a whole new level. There’s an abundance of skanking, moshing, high fiving and smiling in the theatre. We even get a few crowd surfers – isn’t this what a gig is about? Everyone leaving with a smile for sure. ‘I Want Your Girlfriend To Be My Girlfriend Too’, ‘Monkey Man’ and ‘Take On Me” bring the set to a close – but left us wanting more – can’t we just stay for a few more songs?

Most people say Ska is dead. I say it’s alive and kicking if tonight is anything to go by.

Tonight was an experiment to say the least. Banquet were in untested waters with a completely new venue. I think it was a triumph on most fronts. The venue was great – great sound (wherever you were), great views, great band, great atmosphere. I’m sure there were some things that Banquet learnt from tonight, but that’s what it’s all about isn’t it? That’s the DIY ethic. This is the start of something. To quote Jim Morrison in Wayne’s World 2, “If you book them, they will come”. After this showing, I think The Rose has taken claim to be the venue for big (yet still intimate) gigs and 2015 will surely bring the bigger bands to Kingston, and the local ‘scene’ can only benefit from that.