Churning out the fun-ska for around a decade now, major-league veterans Reel Big Fish have finally been captured in a live performance in Anaheim at the House of Blues, and put to high-quality DVD, from the never-ending Kung Fu series simply known as The Show Must Go Off!.
Now that my press release-like introduction is out of the way, let's try and be critical, try being the operative word. The sound is crisply produced without taking away the live feel of it, all the members are clearly visible in the shots (except shy bassist Matt Wong, who kind of just chills in the shadows next to the drummer), and the band hits up all three of their representative full-lengths at least a couple times each for a round twenty-song set. [Turn the Radio Off: 9, Why Do They Rock So Hard?: 4, Cheer Up!: 6.] There aren't a whole lot of fault lines to stumble over.
Although it seems like it takes a few songs for RBF to look energetic and into the performance, it's worth the wait when they do, with some slightly-extended jam sessions within songs, plenty of interaction amongst themselves, and Tyler, the lead trumpeter, accompanying a bottle of Jack's the whole show like a Siamese twin. "S.R." includes four different versions of its main verse, the best being the indecipherable-hardcore-growling version. In the interlude of "Beer," Tyler takes it upon himself to recite, freestyle-like, some of Outkast's "So Fresh, So Clean" and Mr. Timberlake's "Cry Me a River"...don't want to give away too much.
The crowd shots are sufficient in their numbers, but most of them are just of kids singing along or nodding their heads. There is one quick flash of some attempted moshing, but never is there a sign of skanking...anywhere. You would think there's enough upstroke-laced guitars to cause some ass-shaking, but nope. Occasionally, we'll get the hilarious shot of someone's completely uninterested gaze, which isn't always a parent.
The special features aren't throwaways either, besides the token links and credits of course (who's Joe Escalante anyway?...pfft). From the "behind-the-scenes" extra, I now know that Aaron Barrett enjoys rocking out to some Reel Big Fish in his car to get himself pumped up for playing a show. Whether or not it always includes the smooth taste of a cigar and a Taco Bell stuffed burrito is up to the viewer to decide. The commentary from Scott and Aaron is funny at times, but seems to work best in the setting as the background noise for busy work or the like, as the humor isn't worth sitting and staring at the television for two hours hearing them talk. The quint-split-song of "Beer" provides endless watching possibilities for the hardcore angle-supporter, with seven different angles to watch it from.
As far as recommendations go, I would be on the fence about it for the casual RBF fan, but anyone inches past that should have already added this to their video cabinet.