Upon entering the Palladium I made a quick dash to the bar to separate myself from the presumably underage crowd. I ordered my beer and took a survey of the crowd. At most ska shows I can push my way to the front because I’m taller than most, but I was surrounded by an odd batch of giants. Where did they come from? I also noticed that there was an usual number of cute girls and wondered where all of them were in Oklahoma. I quickly remembered, “Oh yeah, high school.”
The opening act took the stage to warm up the rabid ska crowd. Their lead singer looked a Poison-era Bret Michaels, while their guitar played resembled an emo Kurt Cobain. They played a total of five songs, each one trying to sound more and more like a U2 power ballad. As they exited, the crowd politely applauded. I heard a guy from behind remark, “Why is everyone applauding for mediocrity?”
The Supervillains were next up. Their horns and upstrokes were more well received. Like most bands on Law Records, their lyrics were heavy with their love for smoking weed. They fit in well with Reel Big Fish as they played catchy, upbeat ska songs and told jokes. Before they played their cover of Billy Joel’s “Movin’ Out,” their drummer claimed to have “punched Billy Joel in the dick and stole the song.” I was happy with the set to as they played my two favorite songs, “You Got Me” and their closer, “The Pit.”
Next up, ska legends the English Beat took the stage. I’ll admit I’m not as familiar with their catalogue as I should be, but the band put on an amazing show. I would expect nothing less from a band currently celebrating their 30th anniversary. When asked if I was “ready to skank tonight,” I knew I’d be having a great night. I cannot truly express how blown away I was with their live show. For a band that’s been around forever they put on one of the most impressive live shows I’ve seen. They played fan favorite “Twist & Crawl” and closed with their hit, “Mirror in the Bathroom.”
Standing front and center the crowd around me started to chant, “Big Fish! Big Fish!” A fellow traveling Oklahoman asked if Ewan McGregor was the next act. The crowd cheered even louder when a couple of the audio techs stepped on stage. They later realized it was not the band they came to see. The lights dimmed and Reel Big Fish took the stage; they opened with their cover of “Take on Me” and the crowd went nuts. They rushed to the front and packed me in like I was in a can of sardines. A can of sweaty, checkerboard-covered, underage sardines. A panic rushed over me as I realized I had minimal room to skank. Luckily, as the show continued I was able to earn a little room to swing my arms and legs.
Reel Big Fish has always been one of my favorite live acts and they reminded me why that night in Dallas. Even though this was my seventh time seeing the band, they still played a varying set list and I got to hear them perform songs I’d never seen live. It was also your usual Reel Big Fish show in the way people sung along to the horn lines, people demanded they play “Beer,” kids moshed to “Thank You for Not Moshing / In the Pit,” and the band told their tongue-in-cheek jokes that had the audience laughing. The long-running Orange County act continued to show why they're still one of the most successful ska bands around and why I’ll continue to drive hours to see them play any time they come near Oklahoma.
(What I can remember of the) set list:
- Take on Me
- Join the Club
- Snoop Dogg, Baby
- You Don’t Know
- The Set Up (You Need This)
- Another F. U. Son
- Brown Eyed Girl
- She Has a Girlfriend Now
- The Bad Guy
- Where Have You Been?
- Thank You for Not Moshing / In the Pit
- Nothin’ But a Good Time
- Good Thing
- New Version of You
- Don’t Start a Band
- Ban the Tube Top
- Sell Out