Just over 20 years ago, Reel Big Fish released “Turn the Radio Off” and Anti-Flag released “Die for the Government”. The best way to celebrate that milestone was to set off on a tour together. This past Thursday, January 19th, they hit The Fillmore here in Philadelphia and it was just a wonderful night.
Opening up was Direct Hit! Prior to that night, I had not listened to anything from this midwestern band. Their set was highly controlled chaos, energetic from start to finish, and I enjoyed every second of it.
Next up was Ballyhoo! As with Direct Hit!, I had not heard anything of theirs prior to Thursday. More reggae than ska, the energy was more even-keeled, but still a ton of fun. Harmonic and melodic, with vocal intonations that reminded me of Squeeze’s Glenn Tilbrook, Ballyhoo! had the crowd swaying.
Anti-Flag is probably the perfect band to see on the eve of the inauguration, especially since they were going to play a lot of songs off of “Die for the Government”. Politically and musically they pull no punches. Just before playing “Drink Drank Punk” they told those of us in the crowd that “everyone better dance”, which was the first of many calls to dance during the evening. It was a sea of middle fingers when “Fuck Police Brutality” was played. The intro to “Your Daddy Was A Rich Man” had Justin Sane noting that the song was very apropos of what was going on in the political world at the moment. Taking a small breather, he stated that he got into punk because it was “something that was bigger than us” and brought up a couple of volunteers for the two charities they had set up in the lobby–Love Hope Strength and Sea Shepherd.
Love Hope Strength is a “rock ‘n roll cancer foundation” that goes to concerts and works to sign people up to be bone marrow donors. (I did just that during the encore for RBF–you fill out one page of paperwork, swab your cheeks, and viola! Done.) Sea Shepherd is a non-profit organization that does work that governments won’t, or can’t, do as it relates to marine wildlife conservation.
Right after that small PSA, they went straight into a cover of The Clash’s “Should I Stay or Should I Go” and finished off the night with “Brandenburg Gate”. (Chris #2 was playing in the audience, there was a disco ball lighting up the crowd, and one of the happiest circle pits I’ve seen in a long time.)
Reel Big Fish finished the night off playing, in its entirety, their “Turn the Radio Off” album, bookended by some of their other fan favorites. “I Want your Girlfriend to be My Girlfriend Too” started the night off, and after that it was non-stop crowd sing-alongs and dancing. RBF sounds like home to me and for the rest of the night I was swept back 20 years, to when I was still carefree, taking drives up and down PCH and blasting my music to annoy all the Orange County soccer moms. When the first notes of “241” started I may have squealed just a tiny bit. (Okay, I totally squealed.) Though they did play their album from start to finish, they “forgot” to play one song. And that song was “Beer”, so they used that to close out their set, with the final-final song of the night (read: encore) being a cover of A-Ha’s “Take on Me”.
It was a joyful night and I wish I had recorded the evening for posterity, just to re-play over the next 4 years.
* all photos by Anni Kellam
Reel Big Fish are currently on tour celebrating the 20th anniversary of “Turn the Radio Off”. Anti-Flag also celebrates the 20th anniversary of “Die for the Government”. Ballyhoo! supports on all dates, with Direct Hit opening from 1/4/2017 – 1/26/2017 and PkewPkewPkew opening from 1/27/2017 – 2/15/2017.
Remaining Tour Dates:
1/24/17 – West Palm Beach, FL – South Florida Fair – Coca-Cola National Entertainment Stage (Outdoors) (No Turn the Radio Off 20th Anniversary set this show)
1/25/17 – Orlando, FL – The Beacham
1/26/17 – Pensacola, FL – Vinyl Music Hall
1/27/17 – Atlanta, GA – The Masquerade
1/28/17 – New Orleans, LA – The Joy Theater
1/29/17 – Houston, TX – White Oak Music Hall
1/31/17 – Dallas, TX – Gas Monkey Live!
2/1/17 – Austin, TX – Emo’s
2/2/17 – San Antonio, TX – The Aztec Theater
2/3/17 – El Paso, TX – Tricky Falls
2/4/17 – Tempe, AZ – The Marquee
2/6/17 – Salt Lake City, UT – The Depot
2/7/17 – Boise, ID – Knitting Factory
2/8/17 – Portland, OR – Roseland Theater
2/9/17 – Vancouver, BC, Canada – Commodore Ballroom
2/10/17 – Spokane, WA – Knitting Factory
2/11/17 – Seattle, WA – The Showbox
2/13/17 – Sacramento, CA – Ace of Spades
2/14/17 – Reno, NV – Cargo
2/15/17 – San Francisco, CA – The Regency Ballroom
2/16/17 – Los Angeles, CA – Belasco Theater
2/17/17 – San Diego, CA – House of Blues