Reel Big Fish – Camden Underworld

By paul

Reel Big Fish
Thursday 28 January 2010
Koko, Camden
Support: Big D and the Kids Table + Sonic Boom Six

Koko is a stunning building in many ways. It looks beautiful; its labyrinth like passages are full of intrigue; and it?s seeped in history. On tonight?s performance though, it falls short of being a stunning gig venue thanks to a sound that borders on diabolical. It seems that coherent noise dies a death amidst a few too many nooks and crannies.

With the bass sounding, not by design, as though it?s trying to tear a pit into the venue, SONIC BOOM SIX exhibits a set that focuses more on the heavier approach of recent album, ?City of Thieves?. The ska/reggae and hip-hop edges are slimmed down, no doubt an effect of the departure of guitarist Ben Childs (tonight, Howards Alias frontman Matt Reynolds stands in). Fear not though, that trademark variety is still wedged in there. It?s a slick and professional performance despite the tussle to overcome the piss poor venue sound (it?s three songs in before you can really hear the vocals), and it?s all rewarded with a positively buoyant crowd response. On a tour like this, that means more than anything.

BIG D AND THE KIDS TABLE perhaps suffers most from this ongoing poor sound. With last year?s album, ?Fluent In Stroll?, the Massachusetts outfit delivered an unsuspecting soul vibe in the form of female chorus, The Doped Up Dollies. Tonight, the Dollies, represented by Hayley Jane and Sirae Richardson, are almost completely lost in the mix. It?s a shame because you get the impression that a lot of the songs on the new release were waiting to be heard with this enhanced dynamic in a live setting. The setlist is bolstered by tracks from ?Strictly Rude? and the odd smattering of classics (?LAX?, ?Checklist?, ?Little Bitch?). It?s a fun set that, venue aside, would sound a hell of a lot better in the hot sun (when your feet aren?t feeling like they?re about to shatter). Roll on that upcoming August tour.

There?re a lot of things you can level at REEL BIG FISH. The band is just rehashing the same set every tour (this time touring with only a covers CD worth of ?new? material). The banter is robotic and repetitive. If you?ve seen the OC band once, you?ve seen them umpteen times. But, you know what, none of that really matters. The fact is, you know what you?re getting from RBF, and it?s hard to fault the band in its presentation of such.

Nope, tonight?s setlist isn?t all that different from those past tours (we open with ?Sell Out? and close with ?Beer?); it?s chocker with covers (tonight?s champeen being Van Morrison?s ?Brown Eyed Girl?); there?s foolishness and frolicking (Big D/Suburban Legends guitarist Brian Klemm finds his way onto stage adorned in not much more than a pair of leather chaps); even a duet with SB6?s Laila K (reprised from 2008). It?s all predictable and safe, and from the look of the swarming pit, a lot of fun too. Even the sound issues don?t really dampen the spirit of 1,400 party-hardened soles willing to swill beer over anybody and everybody.

In short, tonight?s performance sums up what we most likely already knew: Reel Big Fish is never going to be the thinking mans choice, but given 100 minutes of party fuelled hyperactivity, the band is more than capable of bouncily making time fly.

Alex Hambleton