Get ready to get your skank on, and no, a trip to Kam’s this Friday is not necessary. The “Fall of Ska tour” featuring Reel Big Fish, Streetlight Manifesto, Suburban Legends and Westbound Train is coming to the Canopy Club this Friday, Nov. 17.
Westbound Train is a seven-member group from Boston. The band plays reggae/soul ska that is influenced by ’60s reggae, soul and blues, while the song “I’m No Different” sounds similar to Sublime. Their latest record, Transitions, is their first release on Hellcat records, run by Tim Armstrong of Rancid. Their music is the slowest of the evening, which will leave everyone with the energy to dance for the next band.
The six members of Suburban Legends hail from Orange County, Cal. Their music is a huge departure from the slow, reggae sound of Westbound, and instead tends toward being much faster and upbeat. A unique feature that makes the band stand apart from other ska bands is their influence from other types of music such as disco, funk, metal and pop.
If there was such a category, the latest Suburban Legends record, Dance Like Nobody’s Watching, could be described as dance ska or ska disco. The cover of the record is even arranged like the cover of the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack. Although the band has been through some hard times, including the death of their trombone player, Dallas Cook, in October 2005 and setting their van on fire in July 2006, Suburban Legends continues to tour. Good Suburban Legends songs include “Hey DJ” and “Come Back Home.”
Streetlight Manifesto is from New Brunswick, NJ. Their first album, Everything Goes Numb, came out in 2003 on Chicago label Victory Records. Lead singer/guitarist and songwriter Tomas Kalnoky also played on Catch 22’s first album, Keasbey Nights. This year, Streetlight Manifesto released a reworking of Keasbey Nights as their second record. Their music is fast-tempoed with vocals that sound like Kalnoky may be suffering from a cold, although this makes his voice sound unique rather than annoying. Good Streetlight songs include “Everything Goes Numb” and “Point/Counterpoint.”
The headlining act of the evening, Reel Big Fish has been playing together for almost 15 years and are most recognized for the song “Sell Out.” “Sell Out” received a lot of radio rotation in 1997 when other ska-oriented bands blew up in the mid-’90s like No Doubt and Sublime.
In 1995 Mojo records released the first Reel Big Fish album Everything Sucks. Everything Sucks features staple Fish songs like “Beer,” “Trendy” and “Fuck Yourself.” Their second record, Turn Off The Radio, featured newly recorded versions of some of the songs from their first record along with new hits like “Sell Out” and “She Has a Girlfriend Now.”
Like most ska bands, Reel Big Fish always seems to be on the road. In 2006 their record label, Jive Records, dropped the band after becoming dissatisfied with their performances, and Reel Big Fish began to record independently. After being dropped, they released a live album called Our Live Album is Better Than Your Live Album. Reel Big Fish is silly on stage and their set often revolves around joke-telling between every song, or playing one song in many different musical styles.
Although Reel Big Fish is categorized as a ska band, their playing style is appealing to many types of music fans. Their live show also provides for plenty of laughs and interesting play lists. If song titles like “Hate You,” “Why Do All Girls Think They’re Fat,” “Snoop Dog Baby” and “I Want Your Girlfriend To Be My Girlfriend Too” are not enough to spark interest, singer Aaron Barrett will be sure to turn anyone into a fan with his witty sense of humor.
Be sure to check out Westbound Train, Suburban Legends, Streetlight Manifesto and Reel Big Fish this Friday, Nov. 17 at 8:30 p.m. at Canopy Club. Doors open at 8 p.m. and tickets are $16.