Reel Big Fish / The Aquabats - live in Sayreville (Cover Artwork)

Reel Big Fish / The Aquabats

live in Sayreville (2010)

live show

In 2010, the third wave ska craze of the late '90s seems like ancient history most people have tried their best to forget. The kids have grown up, gotten jobs and some have even had children of their own. It's a rough world out there and it becomes hard to stay in touch with an ever-changing independent music scene. However, having seen Reel Big Fish and the Aquabats! together at Starland Ballroom I can assure you the American ska scene is just as fun and energetic as it ever was.

Thanks to the overwhelming success of Yo Gabba Gabba!, a new generation of weirdos have been exposed to ska music and, more importantly, the Aquabats!. The room goes dark as a countdown is projected onto a screen on stage: 3...2...1. The Aquabats! hit the stage with a level of energy rarely seen by men of their age (and size), opening with "Fashion Zombies" and "Martian Girl." During their set, the band fought a couple of mad scientists and their horrible creation, urged the audience to steal the shoes of crowd-surfers and had a "Pool Party" with Gabba! star Plex. There was a nice mix of old and new songs including "Nerd Alert," "Red Sweater" and "Captain Hampton & The Midget Pirates." A great time was had by all, except for the shoe-less members of the audience.

Reel Big Fish have gone through quite a few changes in the past couple of years. They left their label to release their own records on their own terms and replaced both a drummer and bass player. Fortunately, it has not affected their playing, their "fuck it!" attitude or their sarcastic banter that makes their show so damn entertaining. They hit the ground running with "Sell Out" and immediately left the stage, returning only because the "crowd demanded it." They pulled this prank a few times throughout the set to a crowd that still doesn't get "Thank You for Not Moshing," no matter how many times they play it. The set was a mix of old and new, but had a bit too much borrowed material for my taste. Favorites included "Everything Sucks" and "She Has a Girlfriend Now" (with guest vocals from a lady in the crowd).

All in all, this show was a great time for children and adults alike. That may not be normal for a punk show, but what is? Everyone has to get old but not everyone has to grow up.