Reel Big Fish
with Goldfinger, Zebrahead, Homegrown, and RxBandits
Hard Rock Live, Orlando, FL • July 20, 2001
Carl F Gauze
Tonight’s forecast called for steadily increasing stage diving and pass the dude, with a chance of light moshing and some sneaker flurries. We had all that, along with an increasingly talented string of punk/ska bands, culminating with Reel Big Fish’s heart-stopping non-stop pogo performance.
Things got rolling pretty much on time with RxBandits, a brash and noisy fivesome that opened with three guys beating up on a pair of drum kits. That’s a lot of people on drums, but after a few minutes, two of the stand-up drummers morphed into trombone players, giving the band the punchy, brassy sound they needed to pull people onto their feet. I can’t reliably report any of their song titles, since they neglected to announce them and I forgot to pick up their CD, Progress, at the souvenir desk up front. I’d love to talk about who plays what, but the band is new to me and their Web site requires a Flash 5 plug in, and like so many Flash powered sites, doesn’t ever seem to work. Loud and furious, they’ve got the sound down and need to focus on their self-promotion skills.
With Rx Bandits’ set complete, we waited patiently through the first of four interminable band changes until Homegrown appeared and went though a slightly disappointing set. This La Costa, CA based act relies on drummer Bob Herco to keep the beat roiling, with Johnee Trash and Justin Poyser on guitars. Trash and Adam Lohrbach (lead vocals) seemed to fall into rambling dialogues between songs (“Get A Job,” “Here We Are Again,” “Barbie World”), and made up a few tunes on the spot, like “This Song is Five Seconds Long.” It was, thank god. The crowd didn’t seem to mind, with occasional moshing and a light hail of tennis shoes popping up on stage. Sneaker chucking seems to be the ovation of choice for today’s hip teens, and you know they like the band, ‘cuz the footwear ain’t cheap.
Another half-hour passed in calm anticipation before Zebrahead took the stage. Brash and crude, this is a crowd-pleasing band on its way to its own headlining tour. With charismatic Justin Mauriello on lead vocals and stage diving, the bands were getting better as the songs became more distinct. Between “All I Need” and a quickie cover of “We’re Not Gonna Take It,” Zebrahead engaged in a little audience humiliation and some frank trash talk. It’s amazing what people will do for a T-shirt that doesn’t even fit right.
Another break, another band. Goldfinger is a bigger name, so unlike the previous bands, the proscenium curtain dropped to allow them to set up their drum kits in privacy. As the curtain rose, the boys from Southern California strode out to the strains of the theme from The Odd Couple, then launched into the rocking “You Don’t Know What Pain Is,” “Some Kind of a Day,” and “I Still Feel the Same.” More sneakers flew at leader John Feldman, more people jumped past security to whiz by guitarist Charlie Paulson, only to fling themselves back into the arms of their fellow pit mates, until the band played the frenzied “Miles Away.” The rain of sneakers continues and a few lighters popped out, and Goldfinger returned to play a quick encore of “Mabel” and a snappy bilingual “99 Red Balloons.” Awesome. Plus they’ve got the self-promo thing down; they hung a banner with their names over the stage. It’s these little things that mean so much to the audience.
And then more down time. Curtain down time, get your shoes back down time, new drum kit down time, and at long last, headliners Reel Big Fish strode on stage in silk kimono dressing gowns. This stylish attire was quickly shed as they launched into a frenzy of fast songs played with the energy of a coked up Red Bull addict. Starting from a bouncy “Bootylicious,” they zipped thorough faster and faster version of their hits: “Somebody Hates Me,” “I Want Your Girlfriend To Be My Girlfriend,” “She Has a Girlfriend Now.” When not singing or bouncing up and down, lead man Aaron Barrett floated through a stretch of jumping jacks — good ones, not the lame stuff we did in high school. How does he do it? I got tired just watching. Trombonist Dan Regan played a staccato line that went faster and faster, peaking in the better than original cover of a-ha’s “Take On Me.” No time for an encore, no matter how many shoes we offered up on the altar of 21st century ska; we had to settle for “Sell Out” as the final number. You’ve heard the show biz chestnut — always leave ’em begging for more. Come on guys, just one more for the Gipper.