Live Concert Review

Less Than Jake, Reel Big Fish, The Flatliners

Live (Sept. 21st, 2008)

Edmonton Events Centre - Edmonton, Alberta
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Yes, it was Sunday night. Yes, I had an eight o’clock class the next morning. Yes, I was battling a cold that had been going around. But no, it wasn’t time to sleep and get a good’s night rest. It was, instead, a time to put on your dancing shoes. To go out with friends, head down to the world’s largest shopping mall and see one hell of a good ska show. After all, it had been far too long since a good ska show came to Edmonton (the last one featured Reel Big Fish almost two years ago) and we weren’t about to let this one pass us by.

Unfortunately, I ended up missing the opening band, The Real Deal as I did an interview with Less Than Jake backstage. But I was able to get back in front of the stage by the time Toronto’s The Flatliners came on. While not really a full fledge ska band – in fact they lean much more towards the dirty punk rock sound with a few ska upstrokes thrown in for good measure – they still pulled the crowd into it with the lightning fast drum kicks and nassally vocals delvivered at breakneck speed. Patrick from The Hostage Life was filling in on guitar for the tour as they ripped through most of their Fat Wreck debut – includingJuly! August! Reno!, Mother Teresa Chokeslams The World,Mastering The World’s Smallest Violin, Meanwhile In Hell and Eulogy. Of course, no Flatliners show would be complete without some cuts from Destroy to Create and there’s no better track from that record than Fred’s Got Slacks.

After a short set change the kings of comical ska, Reel Big Fish hit the stage. They immediately broke into Sell out which got the pit moving and dancing in rhythm. It was quickly followed by Another F.U. Song and everyone knew they were in for one hell of a night. The band’s energy filtered through the crowd, who – if their frantic feet were any indication – had waited way too long for a ska show of this caliber. Each and every song was treated to a raucaus applause and loud sing-alongs. From I Want Your Girlfriend to Be My Girlfriend Too, to Where Have You Been, Revolution, She Has A Girlfriend Now,and Your Guys (I hate ‘Em), Reel Big Fish continually delivered their comical, angry and lovelorn ska songs mixed with in between banter that was often snuffedout by chants of Beer and Kiss Me Deadly (both of which were later played). On top of doing a cover of Metallica‘s Enter Sandman and their many renditions of Suburban Rhythm, they capped their set off with their cover of a-ha‘s Take On Me. Even though their set ended way too soon, it would’ve been a good night if it had ended there. Alas, we were still treated to Less Than Jake who not only blasted through more than a dozen tracks ranging fromJohnny Quest Thinks We’re Sell Outs to Conviction Notice, but also rememebered that a show can be memorable for more than just the songs.

Yes, they got the circle pit running in Summoning Monsters. Yes, they broke out the reggae for The Science of Selling Yourself Short; and yes, they hit fan favorites like All My Best Friends are Metalheads, Does The Lion City Still Roar, Plastic Cup Politics, Dopeman, The Ghost of Me & You andThe Last One Out Of Libery City among others. But in between all of those, the Gainesville group filled the gaps with jokes, bass solos, Buddy dancing in a George W. mask and an onstage contest to discover who’s armpit smells the worst. For the encore they shot streams of confetti – something which I guess they were charged 200 bucks for by the venue – and kep the crowd not only laughing but engage throughout the whole set. Something which made the entire show, not just the songs, that much more memorable.