Reel Big Fish + Anti-Flag @ Metropolis – 14th January 2017

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On paper, it looked like the strangest co-headline tour in history. The aggressive, politically charged punk of Pittsburgh’s Anti-Flag, and the tongue-in-cheek ska of Huntington Beach’s Reel Big Fish, united by the fact that both are celebrating the 20th anniversary of standout moments of their respective discographies: Die for the Government in the case of Anti-Flag, and Turn the Radio Off in the case of Reel Big Fish. 2 very different bands, but only 1 crowd inside Metropolis – it will be interesting to see how this turns out…

Ballyhoo!

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It seems like Anti-Flag have always had something to be mad about, but recent events south of the border must have just added fuel to that fire. The crowd assembled when they take the stage clearly have some pent-up aggression to release too, since as soon as they launch into You’d Do The Same and then the classic Die for the Government, the floor section erupts into a furious pit of energy. Anti-Flag are always keen to promote a sense of family, referring to us all as ”brothers and sisters” and every couple of songs or so, reminding us that “if someone falls down, we pick them back up!” In introducing Your Daddy Was a Rich Man, frontman Justin Sane describes how it was written 20 years ago in response to a certain narcissistic businessman (you can guess who…) proclaiming how all he had needed to get rich was a million dollar loan, as if such an amount was trivial.

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The pace of the hour-long set doesn’t let up for a second, as The Press Corpse, Turncoat, and 1 Trillion Dollar$ all elicit huge responses, with the chorus of the latter reverberating around the walls of the venue and sounding particularly epic. The set concludes with Brandenburg Gate, in which guitarist Chris Barker and drummer Pat Thetic carry down some of their equipment into the crowd halfway through the song, and conclude it in amongst the floor section. It makes a spectacular end to the set, and you can’t help but wonder how Reel Big Fish are going to follow it. As the crowd thins out massively right afterwards, you begin to fear for them…

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Anti-Flag Setlist

1. You’d Do the Same

2. Die for the Government

3. Drink Drank Punk

4. Rotten Future

5. Davey Destroyed the Punk Scene

6. Summer Squatter Go Home

7. She’s My Little Go-Go Dancer

8. F Police Brutality

9. I’m Being Watched by the CIA

10. Kill the Rich

11. Your Daddy Was a Rich Man

12. The Press Corpse

13. Turncoat

14. All of the Poison, All of the Pain

15. 1 Trillion Dollar$

16. This Is the End (For You My Friend)

17. Should I Stay or Should I Go (The Clash cover)

18. Cities Burn

19. Brandenburg Gate

Thankfully, as Reel Big Fish take to the stage and the brass section plays the traditional Montreal Olé Olé Olé chant, most of the crowd has come back, though it’s certainly not as packed as it was for Anti-Flag. Indeed, theres a weirdly subdued vibe in the room at the start of the set (perhaps everyone is still catching their breath from Anti-Flag), though this eventually evaporates as the band begin to play the Turn the Radio Off record in its entirety, and the party really gets started with the familiar ska riffs of Sell Out. The last two tracks from that record, I’ll Never Be and Alternative, Baby, are received particularly well by the crowd, now fully in skank-mode, and frontman Aaron Barrett then proclaims “we did it! The whole album!” Jokingly, they mention that they forgot one song, and proceed to play the first verse and chorus of The Impression That I Get by The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, which actually sounded great, and surely made many wish they played it in its entirety (I know I did!). Instead, they play the classic Beer, which morphs into The Offspring’s Self Esteem midway through, to round off the main set.

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They return to the stage for a 4-song encore of I’m Cool, performed by Aaron solo, before the whole band rejoin for Everyone Else Is an Asshole. Where Have You Been brings a huge singalong from the crowd, still at full capacity – seems like nobody left after Anti-Flag after all. Aaron cracks one more joke regarding the Turn Your Radio Off record (“of all the ska punk albums released in the 90s, this was one of them!”), and then the band sign off for the night with their signature ska-infused cover of A-Ha’s Take On Me after a great 75-minute set.

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Ultimately, the strange marriage of punk and ska ended being not so strange after all; two great bands, one great show. Thanks to both for 20 great years!

Reel Big Fish Setlist

1. I Want Your Girlfriend to Be My Girlfriend Too

2. Thank You for Not Moshing

3. Another F.U. Song

4. Your Guts (I Hate ‘Em)

5. Sell Out

6. Trendy

7. Join the Club

8. She Has a Girlfriend Now

9. Snoop Dogg, Baby

10. 241

11. Everything Sucks

12. S.R.

13. Skatanic

14. All I Want Is More

15. Nothin’

16. Say ‘Ten’

17. I’ll Never Be

18. Alternative, Baby

19. Beer / Self Esteem (The Offspring)

20. I’m cool

21. Everyone Else Is an Asshole

22. Where Have You Been

23. Take on Me (A‐Ha cover)

Review – Simon Williams
Photos – Kieron Yates

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