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Reel Big Fish / Mle / Littlest Man Band

Reel Big Fish/Mle/Littlest Man Band: live in Syracuselive in Syracuse (2004)
Sony Music Entertainment

Reviewer Rating: 4.5


Contributed by: urlessthanjakeurlessthanjake
(others by this writer | submit your own)

I've lived on Long Island my whole life, however I am attending college in the area, so this is my first time witnessing a show in Syracuse. The venue is called Club Tundra, and although it is a much smaller place than I have ever seen Reel Big Fish play in, it is very nice and as I learn, has an ex.


I've lived on Long Island my whole life, however I am attending college in the area, so this is my first time witnessing a show in Syracuse. The venue is called Club Tundra, and although it is a much smaller place than I have ever seen Reel Big Fish play in, it is very nice and as I learn, has an excellent sound system. Little did I know this would be perhaps the most important show of my life. Read on…

I arrive just as The Littlest Man Band begins their set. The lead singer, Scott Klopfenstein of LMB is the background vocalists/trumpet/guitarist from RBF. And the trombonist, Dan Regan, shares stages for both bands as well. I was immediately transfixed by Scott's ability to lead a band and sing with such passion. The band's sound is definitely original and is more slow rock then anything punk. However they do have a horn section which gives them a ska sound throughout their music. Scott will also grab the piano to add a little extra flavor. I was impressed by this band from the start and their originality led me to purchasing the CD at the show, mind you this is the first time I have ever done this without previously hearing a band that was not part of a local scene. They played most of the songs off their album Better Book Ends and one new one which name slipped my mind. My favorite song and most memorable would be the horn-driven ballad "Stayed Away Too Long." If you liked their first album, you are gonna like the sound of their new stuff.

Next up is another California band who was shocked by the cold weather, Mlée (pronounced Maylay). Even though their in-between song banter lacked entertainment, they put on a fairly decent set. This Sub-City records band piano based rock was interesting. The slower songs tended to drag, while their faster songs tended to keep you awake. The band appeared stronger when the frontman grabbed the piano and left his guitar by his side. Suddenly the band turned into an interesting Billy Joel meets punk rock sound. Maybe a little too poppy for some but they had just enough rock in them to find me being a fan of a new band to me for the second time in the night.

Reel Big Fish has never been the band who has the lyrics that inspire you or the music that will influence generations to come. Will it happen, yes, but there are better bands out there to do it instead. However, what RBF has always provided is fun albums with catchy horn lines and good pick me up songs to listen to when you feel like being in a good mood. They have provided a great live show time and time again, where the crowd seems to leave with a smile and wanting more. The lead singer Aaron Barret is arguably one of the best frontmen in the business. He has a good voice … not the best, but his stage presence, energy, and wacky outfits has always been phenomenal. After two solid opening acts I was thirsty for the night to get better … I would be shocked with what I was about to witness.

They enter the stage to the delight of the Central New York crowd who has been looking for a reason to skank and sing along all night to a familiar band, and my eyes are immediately transfixed upon Barret. The guy look like he just rolled out of bed! He is wearing, well pretty much pajamas, and he's got a nice bed head look going. I immediately assured myself that this was a look he was going for and was just a goofy "costume." I smiled at this sense of style … I should've trusted my instincts. It takes one song, "Dateless Losers" to realize something is wrong here. Barret is drunk. Not crazy drunk, that would provide for a wild live concert. More like … reclusive, I hate my life kinda drunk. The energy was gone and I don't think he said one word to the crowd throughout the set besides maybe a quick "thank you" on the last note of each song. The set progresses and the band plays equal parts of their last three albums including the aforementioned "Dateless Losers" and in no particular order "Ban the Tube Top", "Rock N' Roll is Bitchin" and "Good Thing," "She's Famous Now," "Thank You For Not Moshing," "The Set Up (You Need This)," "You Don't Know," "Everything Sucks," "Join the Club" and two partial covers including Sublime's "Garden Grove" and Metallica's "Enter Sandman." You might notice this set lacking in the amount of songs and containing rather few "hits" of theirs. Well, read on.

The set being played is flat out lousy. It was simply too slow and lacking in energy for a live show, especially compared to what they normally show up with. Once again, singer/guitarist Aaron Barret is not talking between songs and not singing with feeling and screwing up lyrics. He is missing his own lyrics. Background vocalist Scott, gives him a look when singing the second verse instead of the verse on at least two occasions. Let me assure you that the rest of the band is into the music and interacting with the crowd, showing off great energy, but the band NEEDS Barrett to perform as usual or they will suffer like they did tonight. As the set progresses Barrett grabs the microphone and turns his back to the crowd and sort of sulks as he sings to no one in particular. He drops his mic several time and a guitar tech comes and puts it on the mic stand for him. You're welcome your majesty! Here's where the fun starts happening: halfway into, ironically enough "Good Thing," Barrett smashes his guitar into pieces along with the monitor in front of him. Personally I thought this got old when the Who did it, and I feel it is kind of throwing my hard earned money that I paid for your records and this concert back in my face, however this is rock and roll so I let it slide as him trying to be cool. Oh no folks, he is ANGRY. The song finishes and he kicks over his mic stand and then breaks his microphone by smashing it into the stage, then he kicks over a set of keyboards placed on the side of the stage. I officially realize this is not part of the show when he immediately storms off the stage without saying a word, straight through the door with the exit sign looming overhead. The band is shocked and simply says thank you and goodnight and walks off-stage … Perhaps from my angle I was the only one that viewed Barret leaving the venue, because the crowd begins to chant for an encore. They believed this was part of the show, until Scott steps up to the mic and apologizes for Aaron Barret's antics, he tells us something must be wrong and they would continue if they were able to find Barret and if they had new equipment to play on because theirs is broken. Tough spot this guy is in, and the band is obviously embarrassed of their singer. They felt horrible and they admirably said thank you for coming and apologized for Barret's being an asshole and having to cut the set short. It sure was. It was timed at under 45 minutes on my watch. I don't know what was worse, watching Barret through a drunken/angered tantrum during "Good Thing" or watching a disheveled Scott Klopfenstein walking off stage after apologizing to a chant of "BEER, BEER, BEER!" in reference to their hit song, when in fact apparently beer was the root of their problem tonight. I would not be surprised if this was the beginning of the end of Reel Big Fish. Something needs to be done, or this band is doomed. I guess you could say I got my money's worth, just not at all like I had expected.

 


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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
nagy (April 30, 2010)

This is fucking years late but Vodka was the villian that fucked up Aaron. My guitarist met with Scott after the show. Think it was Barton's. He was cool to meet and kinda a tweeker. My guitarist stated that this was the last show we go to together cause you are badddd luck.

Taylor2121 (March 4, 2007)

"wow just wow....i never could tell if Aaron Baretts sarcasm and attitude was serious or just for show. Guess he really is an asshole, and his explanation on their website is equally immature and ignorant. What a fucking jerk. Guess maybe those RBF breakup rumors a year or so ago might have had some merit too them. Oh well, I saw them in their hey day a few times. ska is dead."

Dude, everyone has a bad show sometimes. Maybe this one was really bad, but so what. They play amazing shows all of the time, don't expect everything to be fine all of the time. And as for RBF breaking up, I highly doubt it will happen for the next 5, maybe even 10 years. They just broke free from the record company so they should be fine for a while. And no sir, ska is not dead, you are.

Anonymous (February 6, 2005)

I just saw RBF yesterday night here at Central Michigan University playing with Lucky Boys Confusion. Being a big fan of their music, and being one of the people who was kind of disappointed by the pop-ier songs from "Cheer Up", I was really hoping they wouldn't suck live.
Well, I really had nothing to worry about. The set was great - they rocked hard and built up to all their biggest hits at the end of the show and the crowd loved it. They even got some stuff from their new album on there that sounded like the RBF I love getting back on track. They were joking around on the stage and having a great time, and when when "Rock and Roll is Bitchin" went into "Enter Sandman", and "Where Have You Been" turned into a 3 minute jazz solo break, no one was complaining. So, I guess they might have their ups and downs, but after last night I'm looking forward to April 5 and the new album even more.

Anonymous (November 24, 2004)

i was at the syracuse show. i've waited so long for RBF to come around so i could see them live. i'd heard that they put on great shows, so i was disappointed when i didn't get the full experience (plus they didn't play all the songs i'd like to hear) however, it was still an experience. now i can say that i was at the only bad show RBF ever played... and i'm sure i'll get another chance to see them (hopefully). as far as the musical part of the concert goes, i was already blown away by LMB & Melee, so i felt like i got more than my money's worth even before RBF came on. basically, if you're a real fan you know what's up. if you're not then you'll let this one show change your opinion about the whole band. but that's dumb. don't be dumb. people fuck up. deal with it and move on.

Anonymous (November 22, 2004)

oh yea, and since i'm anonomous on post with the truthfull apology shit, and i'm not a pussy who will hide who i am, ya can e-mail me with your comments at banabien@hotmail.com

Anonymous (November 22, 2004)

there you go, your truthfull fucking apology. i saw them 2 nights ago, and it ruled, and they were hilarious and no sign of any of this shit so what ever, they are my fav band and what not. and for the blog post where that one person got all angry and called him immature, thats just his sence of humor, get used to it, or stop reading it

November 19, 2004
Nobody likes me, everybody hates me i think i'll eat some worms!
hey, they don't call me "the Rock and Roll Villain" for nothing! ok, they don't call me that at all...do they?
so a lot of people are upset about the show where i flipped out and broke shit and walked off the stage. well i am truly sorry that our fans were disappointed and i DO NOT take that lightly!
but things like that happen sometimes. i remember practicaly every member of the band throwing their instrument down and walking off the stage at one time or another through the years. this job drives you fucking crazy!! its not easy to be an entertainer and to have to go up in front of people night after night and pretend that everything is ok and pretend that you love playing night after night after night after night after night! this life drives you crazy! we get bored out on tour. we lose our minds out on tour. it's easy to forget why you're out there when you have 22 hours to do NOTHING every day.
so we sit. or we drink. or we obsess and go crazy and lose perspective. it's so easy to do.
when you start a band, you have a dream, you want to be a rockstar and have all the fame and money and sign autographs and be on tv and do all that famous stuff. or you just want to play music for fun and to make people...or make yourself happy.
but it doesn't always go the way you want it to.
it's not always as exciting or as glamorous or even as fun as you hoped. sometimes it's incredible and you're so grateful for the life you have...and sometimes it's just like any other boring life with a dead end job that seems to go nowhere.

Anonymous (November 22, 2004)

what a cocksmoker....if the guy is doing smack or feeling sad or overwhelmed, stay off the stage and get better. i'm sick of all these uptight assholes who think they're rockstars whining and complaining about shit that any one of us would be put in jail for. douchebag.

Anonymous (November 22, 2004)

I saw RBF at the state college show...the show was really good. There was a lot of energy thare and afterwards i went to an apartment with justin, aaron, and some of my friends...Aaron did seem a little different then what I would think he would be but I figured maybe he was just on something or thats just the way he is lol...All in all though he was extremely nice and I had an amazing time. He really made that night memorable

Anonymous (November 20, 2004)

hahahahaha. get over it. they are awesome. then and now. so they had a bad show... i dont think there is a band out there that hasn't. give the guy a break. he's human too. i personally hope they don't break up.. .EVER because they are straight up fucking hilarious. and maybe some of you need to get a sense of humor... or better yet a reality check... lifes a bitch. its not all fun and games. don't hold it against the band though. accept that somebody made a mistake as im sure you all have previously. so if you like them, rad. if not, rad. but get over the bad show thing... the guy has a sense of humor... and i like it. i personally found it hilarious that he said he was on heroin... its not like that is a solid excuse. he's sarcastic and made a sarcastic remark.... so if you want to get pissed at a band for sucking id say go for one that really does suck... and one that consistently has bad shows and really is fucking up because they are on heroin... not one that has a great time and puts on an amazing show... im sure if i was there i would have been laughing my ass off... don't be pissed that you wasted your money if you were there... be glad its going to a good cause.... REHAB. ahahaha.

and just for the record the littlest man band and melee are fucking awesome too so i think they deserve a little bit of credit.... hip hip hoooray!!

Anonymous (November 19, 2004)

Fuck you.

SK.

Anonymous (November 18, 2004)

to the poster below me, i pray that every show you see from now until your death, all the bands play the worst sets of their lives.

Anonymous (November 18, 2004)

Well to be honest, I dont care that a fan felt cheated or let down or fucked over. Playing out problems to an audience isnt my idea of fun either. Next time you are fucking emotionally drained let me bring a few hundred friends round to your house to witness it.

Anonymous (November 18, 2004)

i too just got back from the poughkeepsie show and they put on one hell of a show! unfortunately, the syracuse show was a drunken/fucked up mess, but i assure you, aaron was ON! tonight. as was the rest of the band.

Anonymous (November 18, 2004)

I just got back from the show in Poughkeepsie. Comingi in I didn't know what to expect but they were amazing. They really must have gotten their shit together after that disaster.

Anonymous (November 17, 2004)

I saw this tour last nite and the review of RBF is the complete oposite of what the review said everyone in the band was entergetic and lots of extended versions of songs and the set lasted near 2 hours. Only downfall was they didn't play Suburban Rythme.

~exploitedyouth~

Anonymous (November 17, 2004)

I honestly like a couple of tracks on "cheer up" but for the most part, this band is pretty boring now, they tried changing their sound a little with the times, but it didn't really work for them, they neglected to reach out to the teeny bopper audience the way that bands like ltj have. They kind of bored me at the "coast to coast roast" show last summer as well, the only thing I really enjoyed out of the whole show was the 30 minute rxb set.
-notfeelingcreative

punkindrublic696 (November 17, 2004)

dirty smackhead

Anonymous (November 17, 2004)

Look at the time: it's already a half past gay.

jamespastepunk (November 16, 2004)

Verbatim from Aaron's blog on rbf.com (posted on Nov 15):

oh man, i don't know how all those famous figures of rock and roll history made it through whole shows on heroin. that's fucking crazy! well that's it for me! i made it through the Pittsburgh show but that Mr. brownstone is an unpredictable son-of-a-bitch and our show last night ended up in what i've been told was complete disaster. i don't remember but i am very sad to hear that i dissapointed so many of our fans! it's hard enough to play after a few beers or even sober!! i usually walk off stage thinking, "god damn it i fucking suck, i am a fucking fraud!!!" i don't know what made me think i could play on drugs.

Anonymous (November 16, 2004)

this band sucked back in the day

and they still suck

-the other scott

jon_the_skafather (November 16, 2004)

Good point.
I wasn't really referring to the lyrics so much though. They definately do have a dark side to a bunch of their songs. However i always thought they took sort of a sarcastic approach to it, and made the music sorta peppy, take "Somebody Hates Me" as an example.

-------------------------------------------

i just wanna say.....just because you put angry lyrics to happy music doesn't mean the lyrics themselves are always joking or whatever. i know that though i might put really angry lyrics to a ska song, i wanted to punch a hole in the wall when i was writing them.

that's not an excuse for this immature shit though. aaron posted on his journal that he was on heroin at the time but i dunno whether to believe that or not.

urlessthanjake (November 16, 2004)

"what RBF has always provided is fun albums with catchy horn lines and good pick me up songs to listen to when you feel like being in a good mood"

you should start paying attention to the lyrics. Theres a reason why their album covers are things like a dog biting a baby in the mouth or a homicide about to go down.
---------------------------------------------------------- ------

Good point.
I wasn't really referring to the lyrics so much though. They definately do have a dark side to a bunch of their songs. However i always thought they took sort of a sarcastic approach to it, and made the music sorta peppy, take "Somebody Hates Me" as an example.

Anonymous (November 16, 2004)

I've been an RBF fan for a long time, and for better or worse, they're my favorite band. I'm seeing them for the 10th time this weekend...

It's sad to see what's been happening to the band lately. I, too, have seen them play really long, perfect sets... once almost three hours, one of the best nights ever... and I have to say that the past few times they have been trending generally downward, or at least toward being very hot/cold instead of consisitent.

That said, on the Coast to Coast Roast tour in NYC this year, which was the last time I saw them, they were very energetic and played for 1:45 or so, and I thought that had perhaps turned a corner... especially with them busting out rarely played songs like "Hungry Like the Wolf" and "Drunk Again." They were joking a lot, like they did on their earlier tours.

Hmm... I guess we'll see what happens the rest of this tour. To be honest, if Aaron really can't handle himself anymore, I hope they break up right after this album so they don't tarnish their name anymore. It's pretty sad to hear about that kind of a disaster of a "show."

i-type-poorly (November 16, 2004)

"what RBF has always provided is fun albums with catchy horn lines and good pick me up songs to listen to when you feel like being in a good mood"

you should start paying attention to the lyrics. Theres a reason why their album covers are things like a dog biting a baby in the mouth or a homicide about to go down.

Anonymous (November 16, 2004)

I was there.

I was also at their next show in Buffalo and it was business as usual. In fact the show in Buffalo was the best I've ever seen them play.

Talking to Aaron afterwards, he apologized like mad crazy, he said he tried taking some drugs before the show and that he didn't even remember what happened.

Anonymous (November 16, 2004)

did anyone else notice that all the members journals on nov 14 are full of nonsense??? wonder if that has anything to do with anything.

ahh..this pisses me off hearing about it because now im gonna start to speculate.....which is never a good thing if you are a pessimist such as i........::sigh::

yellowtrash (November 16, 2004)

He's probably having a nervous breakdown from playing ska for so damn long.

TheOneTrueBill (November 16, 2004)

I saw 'em this summer and they seemed fine

urlessthanjake (November 16, 2004)

hey guys, just so you know I didn't plan on reviewing the show and its more of a rant after the show ended then a great review, I just felt the masses needed to know. It was very interesting to say the least. Personally I hope the band continues because I have respect for all of them besides Barret, unless he gives some sort of meaningful truthful apology. I'd like to hear what happens with the shows on the rest of the tour ... if they continue like it's no big deal.

Anonymous (November 16, 2004)

he said on his website he was on herion, sarcatically.

people on heroin don't act like that.

coke and alchohol yes. heroin is a painkiller. i had a friend addicted to heroin. she was zoned out when high.

Big_Guy (November 16, 2004)

Wasn't Aaron on heroin or something

Anonymous (November 16, 2004)

wow just wow....i never could tell if Aaron Baretts sarcasm and attitude was serious or just for show. Guess he really is an asshole, and his explanation on their website is equally immature and ignorant. What a fucking jerk. Guess maybe those RBF breakup rumors a year or so ago might have had some merit too them. Oh well, I saw them in their hey day a few times. ska is dead.

Anonymous (November 16, 2004)

I heard about this from elsewhere.

Reel Big Fish has jumped the shark but I still would be interested in him going nuts.

Keith Moon has nothing on Aaron...

Anonymous (November 16, 2004)

Being a lifetime residents of Syracuse and a member of a Syracuse ska band, I am more than proud to say this happened in my home town. I hear it was quite the scene there tho. Word is that Aaron had a problem with the owner of the venue, Club Tundra. I don't understand though... I've played their before and the owners are welcoming and friendly, the sound system is wonderful, and you get into the strip club next door for free (!!!)... where's the issue here??

Rory

www.razsum.com

Anonymous (November 16, 2004)

This from Aaron Barret's online journal:

November 15, 2004
oh man, i don't know how all those famous figures of rock and roll history made it through whole shows on heroin. that's fucking crazy! well that's it for me! i made it through the Pittsburgh show but that Mr. brownstone is an unpredictable son-of-a-bitch and our show last night ended up in what i've been told was complete disaster. i don't remember but i am very sad to hear that i dissapointed so many of our fans! it's hard enough to play after a few beers or even sober!! i usually walk off stage thinking, "god damn it i fucking suck, i am a fucking fraud!!!" i don't know what made me think i could play on drugs. i blame the way books and movies romanticize drug addiction!! it just seems so cool!!
oh well, the only drug i really need is prozac...that or crystal meth!!

Anonymous (November 16, 2004)

My friends in Monty's Fan Club join this tour tomorrow night. Looks like they picked the wrong tour to support RBF...

I used to love this band. I've seen them play flawless 2 hour sets. When they were on, there werent many bands that could put on a more entertaining show. But post 'why do they rock so hard' they absolutely fell appart. I've seen an outdoor show where they literally didn't know how to play any of their songs. I've seen one of these 'PJ' shows as well. It sucks that Aaron isn't going to give his all, but it really pissed me off that he was advertising it. I made the decision a long time ago to never give RBF a cent of my money ever again.

istapledmyfoot (November 16, 2004)

I saw RBF over the summer and they definitely didn't have their shit as together as I've seen them in the past. Forgetting lyrics, forgetting parts, etc. but it was the first night of the tour, and most of the bands were a little sloppier than usual so it was forgiveable if a little dissapointing. But this is ridiculous, being cynical, self-deprecating and whiny lyrically is funny and endearring, but no one wants to see a drunken onstage temper tantrum . I hope this shit is the anomaly on the tour, or they might as well pass the torch to Streetlight Manifesto.

Anonymous (November 16, 2004)

holy shit.

i would have loved to see this.
I

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