Concert Review:
Big Fish reel in ska-tastic show
Posted March 02, 2007
?Emmah Obradovich
Reel Big Fish, a famous ska band, performed Wednesday evening in the Bridges Auditorium at the Claremont Colleges. Aaron Barrett, the lead vocalist and guitar player, is one of six members. The band consists of a drummer, guitarist, trumpet players, and vocalist.

I'm not a big fan of ska, but I have to give it up for Reel Big Fish. They totally rocked the Bridges Auditorium last Thursday night.

The opening acts, Chase Long Beach and Curt Phillips, were alright, but Reel Big Fish really shined.

Chase Long Beach is a six person group, featuring two girl members, including the lead singer.

Reminding me of an early No Doubt, they had a cool sound. Each of the members had very strong stage presence.

The lead singer appeared comfortable on stage and the trumpet and trombone playing was admirable, but they were relative amateurs when compared to Reel Big Fish.

Curt Phillips was the second opening act, and he was completely out of left field. His emo folk rock, or “emolk” as I call it, was a sincere attempt to win over the crowd.

It took the crowd awhile to warm up to him though. His shyness and quiet personality were a surprise at first. However, opening up towards the end, he was genuinely shocked to look up and see that the crowd was waving their lit up cell phones in the dark, much like the lighters floating in the air at legitimate rock concerts.

One attendant came over to Phillips, slapped him on the back and summed up his performance with the phrase, “You put on a good show man, but it was just to the wrong crowd.”

Security guards were everywhere, pushing people out of the aisles and into their seats.

When Reel Big Fish came out, everyone moved as far forward as they could, heading for the front row.

Reel Big Fish is a six man band from Orange County. Its members are Aaron Barrett on lead vocals, Ryland Steen on drums, Dan Regan on
trombone, Scott Klopfenstein and John Christianson on trumpets and Matt Wong on bass. I have to admit, the guys were just fantastic.

As they came out, the “Star Wars” theme played, and everyone screamed. Barrett shouted out “Everyone do the fish!”

With that exclamation, the band jammed their way into the first song. People were getting down, dancing almost swing style to the music. Fish was catchy, much more well-tuned than either of the opening acts.

It was easy to get the crowd excited. The band members are goofy and outgoing. Barrett and Klopfenstein cracked jokes and made the audience feel at home. Occasionally the other members of the band danced, or maybe skipped, across the stage.

With a lot of songs inspiring the crowd to sing along, the performance held an easy, laid back atmosphere.

I have to admit that they played their instruments well and the songs were catchy, even if I thought the lyrics less than par. It made a big difference in their performance that Reel Big Fish was funny, irreverent and were able to play their music with flare.

Fish blasted their way through the rest of the evening, Steen thundering out tsunami drum rolls when inspired, and Regan hop-dancing across stage whenever the urge came upon him. Compared to the opening acts, Fish was polished and refined, yet still managed to fully rock out, becoming a musical attack on the senses.

The musicians had worked well together, being energetic, loud and fast.
When the lead vocalist from Chase Long Beach came out to sing with Fish, the band was able to include her in their commanding stage presence.
Even as Barrett continually plugged their new live album, people danced in the aisles as if they had gone insane.

Jumping, singing, writhing audience members poured out of their seats and into the aisles, causing security guards many problems.
When the band abruptly ended their show, the audience cheered for an encore and out they came.

Reel Big Fish jammed their way through a few more songs before the show officially came to an end.

Despite my inability to enjoy ska, I do like Reel Big Fish.

They are a witty, well-put together group with a lot of experience and the talent to keep their music fresh, funny and smart.

Lilia Cabello can be reached at

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Big Fish reel in ska-tastic show

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