They Rock So Hard So You Don’t Have To
So… how to begin…
Rewind. One of our friends (Dan) invited Andy and I to go to the up and coming Reel Big Fish with him and his brother. I had randomly called him one night to inform him of some Everclear (the band, not the alcohol) thing on the radio. He was in Arizona at the time at some Mexican wedding (didn’t ask) and informed me of the concert. At first I thought he meant a Phish concert because he didn’t actually say “Reel Big Fish” he just said “fish.” Yeah, silly assumption, I know. Anyway, we agreed to go before actually knowing for sure which band it was (we eventually sorted that out those minor details).
Night of the concert had arrived. After grabbing a quick bite to eat at home, Andy and I headed to downtown Portland where the Roseland Theater lived. We were going to meet Dan and his brother and apparently Mike (another friend who spontaneously decided to go too) at the theater. They were slow, so we beat them by 15 minutes.
The best part about the Roseland is the second floor (+21 only) with seats, a balcony, and oh yeah, a bar. So, without further ado, Andy got himself an insanely overpriced plastic cup full of one of his favorite local micobrews.
About a third of the way into his beer, Dan and company found us upstairs, crept up behind Andy, and proceeded to ram him from behind causing a serious party foul of the expensive liquid all over some of the bleacher-like chairs.
So, after Dan got chewed out by just about everyone about the party foul (he claimed he wouldn’t have done that if he had seen the beer) and everyone got whatever drink they desired from the bar, Andy and I noticed something different about Dan.
Tonight’s ska adventure had inspired Dan to look the part of someone going to a ska concert. At least that was the idea… I think… Dan’s younger brother (John) had spiked his own hair which was the appropriate hair length for spiking. Dan decided to do the same thing. His hair was about 3-4 inches on the top. Not the appropriate length for spiking. At least, not with whatever gel he had used. It looked as if his dog licked his head quite vigorously. Limp and slimy. I told him this. It didn’t seem to bother him.
Neither Andy or I considered ourselves “fans” of Reel Big Fish. I mean, we like the music well enough, but rarely listen to it on a day to day basis. At least, not since graduating from college 3-4 years ago. Basically our main motivation for going to concerts consists of the following questions:
1) Is it as the Roseland?
2) Is the band half decent?
Having said this, neither of us knew what the band looked like. Turns out Dan and Mikey didn’t seem to know either. John, who was a überfan of the RBF, didn’t really give us much indication that he knew either. Hmmm…
While we waited for the openers to start, I looked around the pit below. It seemed to consist mostly of hyperactive high schoolers. Alright. This made me glad that I got to sit up in the balcony. Mostly because of the whole “sitting” thing. What can I say, I’m a lazy concert goer.
Pretty soon the first band came on. I thought they were pretty decent in musical talent, albeit a bit low energy for a ska band. John seemed to think they were crap. I deduced this from his screaming of “You @#!%$ing suck! You can’t @#!%$ing sing! Get off the @#!%$ing stage!”
Place hand over side of face nearest to screaming crazy boy. Lean in seat away from screaming crazy boy. Pretend not to know screaming crazy boy.
This continued for two more opening bands. More swearing and screaming by screaming crazy boy ensued.
Finally, after suffering though John’s very public display of opinion for what seemed like hours, Reel Big Fish finally came on and John and Dan retreated down to the pit where they quickly wiggled their way to the front of the stage. That’s another great thing about the Roseland. It is a fairly small arena so you can be wherever you want. At front getting jostled or up chilling on the balcony with a drink in hand. There’s not a bad view anywhere in the theater. Plus, if the sound tech. is good, the place really ROCKS.
The concert itself was really good. The RBF members know now to entertain – which I believe is as important to a good concert as the music itself. They would play around with each other. Joke around. Mix up their music style. Fun stuff. The best way to describe them is… well… a bunch of old guys (I think they were the oldest ones at the concert) dressed in punk garb and playing super energetic ska with lyrics that are blatantly honest and often riddled with sarcasm. They don’t bother hiding their real feelings behind fluffy metaphors and symbols. If that’s not entertaining in itself, I don’t know what is. :)
Once the concert really got going a vortex of human bodies opened up in the middle of the pit. People were flung around the whirlpool whether by their desire, or not. Then the crowd surfing began despite the big NO CROWD SURFING sign at the entrance to the theater. I figured about a quarter of the people that were flung up and forward didn’t volunteer for the experience. The bouncers at the stage front were definitely kept busy all night catching the body surfers. I figure that’s the job you want if you want to quickly get into shape.
I also noticed a forlorn looking teenager standing glumly at the back of the pit next to a person, whom I assumed, was his father. The father looked like his was having a great time. He even danced a bit while his son looked on with arms sullenly crossed. Then, during the break, there was the guy who asked a girl to take a picture for him and then proceeded to hit on her. Then his friend hit on her friend. Slick. Sometimes the crowd is just as entertaining as the entertainment – and to have a bird’s eye view over everything was a bonus.
Also during the break, Dan and his brother came back up. Dan now had his sweat drenched shirt sticking to his body in addition to his goofy hair (ewww…). He chatted with us for a bit and rehydrated himself before heading back down to the big squeeze known as front row.
All in all it was a really good concert. Highly recommended (if you can stomach RBF music that is). Definitely worth the $20. :)
For those that are curious about the Reel Big Fish, here is a random thing I found on them. The snippets of the concert are a pretty accurate representation of the aforementioned concert.