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Ska Masters Reel Big Fish Co-Headline A Show With Raw Punkers Anti Flag At Seattle’s Showbox, by Holly Homan

February 11, 2017 was a day I looked forward to for several weeks. Reel Big Fish were headlining a show with Anti Flag at Seattle’s Showbox (the good Showbox, not the Showbox Sodo).

I don’t know when I last saw Anti Flag but it’s been at least six years. Reel Big Fish I’ve seen many times in the last decade and I haven’t gotten bored with them yet. This time they were celebrating twenty years as a band and twenty years since their first album Turn the Radio Off was released. They opened their set with I Want Your Girlfriend To Be My Girlfriend and then proceeded to play the aforementioned album in its entirety. Many sang along with all the songs. Reel Big Fish has a very lively three-piece horn section. Trumpet player John Christianson (AKA Johnny Christmas) was a pro at riling the audience, leaning into the crowd and egging them on. He ran from one side of the stage constantly doing this. He looked quite colorful in a bright red jacket and red plastic rimmed sunglasses.

When it came time to play She Has A Girlfriend Now, front man/singer Aaron Barrett claimed the song was a duet that needed a male and female voice. And he’d want to perform it with no other woman than Saxel Rose (Sax player Matt Appleton) on “unprotected sax.” And he sang the female part splendidly.

Whenever RBF play their song Suburban Rhythm they always play different variations, a disco version, a speeded up version and this time even a square dance (in which the horn section performed a square dance with each other) and even a death metal version. Each version was introduced by Aaron saying, one more time, and each time the horn section danced circles around each other.

When they played Turn Off the Radio in its entirety Aaron said they forgot one song. The band then lit into The Mighty Mighty Bosstones’ The Impression That I Get, before stopping abruptly and saying that wasn’t a Reel Big Fish song. That was a song by Smash Mouth from the soundtrack of Shrek II. The audience wasn’t fazed. They all sang along to the Bosstones. Then the band started playing the Offspring’s Self Esteem and everyone sang along to that also before the band abruptly switched gears and played the forgotten song, Beer.

Reel Big Fish put on one of the best live shows of any band. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve seen them, and they’ve remained as entertaining as they were the first time I saw them.

The rest of RBF are, Billy Kottage – Trombone, Ed Smokey Beach – Drums, and Derek Gibbs – on Bass.

This concert was dually headlined by Anti Flag. Anti Flag played their raw energy, politically charged punk, playing many of the songs they wrote when Shrub was president, but that are unfortunately as timely today (You gotta die gotta die gotta die for your government. Die for your country, that’s sh**).

Singer/guitarist Justin Sane mentioned that a real estate investor just became president and several boos emanated from the packed house. He went on to say Trump’s daddy was a rich man and a racist mother fucker and how the Donald was using racism as a political tool. During many of their songs there was so much dancing I could feel the floor heave like a trampoline.

This tour happened to coincide also with Anti Flag’s 20th anniversary and this night was also the 19th birthday of their guitar player. A lit cake was brought on stage long enough for everyone to sing Happy Birthday to him and Justin Sane to announce his adolescence was over.

It was great seeing Anti Flag again and their message is just as pertinent today as it was a decade ago.

Besides Sane Anti Flag consists of Pat Thetic – Drums, Chris #2 – Bass/Vocals, and Chris Head – Guitar.

Prior to Anti Flag was Ballyhoo. Ballyhoo are mostly a power pop/punk band but had a lot of ska/reggae sound thrown in. They’re a good tight unit but I found their stage performance and music to be largely formulaic. There wasn’t much that stood out as unique. I’d seen them once before at Warped Tour a few years ago and felt the same way then. They aren’t bad, but just average.

The first band of the night was Pkew Pkew Pkew. I really liked these guys. They were very exuberant, playing some strong power pop with very punk overtones.

All in all this was a very fun night. All four bands put on really good performances for this sold out night. I will see Reel Big Fish 100 times more if the opportunity arrives.

– Photos property of Holly Homan, all rights reserved.

Reel Big Fish

Anti Flag

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