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Why Do They Rock So Hard?
November 11, 2010 1:17 PM   Subscribe

"Whatever happened to Suburban Rhythm? Why did Ed and Scott quit? Please don't go, Suburban Rhythm! All the other bands are just shit." So goes the (many versions of) the song "S.R." by a little ska band called the Reel Big Fish.

You may recognize third-wave ska band Reel Big Fish from their 1996 hit "Sell Out". Or from their appearance as the house band for the BASEketball team, the Beers. Or maybe your kids recently saw them on tour with Yo Gabba Gabba Live!. Even if you've never heard of them, surely we can agree on the awesomeness of their versions of the classic songs "Take On Me", "Hungry Like the Wolf", "Boys Don't Cry", and, of course, "Kiss Me Deadly".
posted by ApathyGirl (39 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
I still love Reel Big Fish. That was a show I actually went back to my old university to seeā€”the one where I got so mad at jerks walking around yelling into their cellphones during the outdoor set that I actually reached out and closed one girl's phone as she was walking by. (The girl was so shocked, the only thing she could think to say was "Bitch!")
posted by limeonaire at 1:26 PM on November 11, 2010


Or maybe you saw them live about 15 times when you were in high school. Seriously it used to seem like Reel Big Fish played about two shows a month and I lived in Florida, diagonally across the country from where they were. Them and Less Than Jake, nobody was on the road more than those guys. I wasn't even that big a fan, but they were fun as hell. I have some pretty great memories of the circle pits at RBF shows.
posted by penduluum at 1:26 PM on November 11, 2010


This song made me into an RBF fan when I heard it on a CMJ sampler.

the Beers.

the Milwaukee Beers
posted by drezdn at 1:38 PM on November 11, 2010


Their ska version of "Take On Me" definitely made the original somehow sound good again long after it had become whatever the pop-music equivalent of hoary is. (And I mean that in an approving way, for both versions!)
posted by kittyprecious at 1:40 PM on November 11, 2010


This post is causing me to have flashbacks to my pretentious ska/not-ska discussions on alt.music.ska...
posted by drezdn at 1:42 PM on November 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ska's coming back again. I betcha. Yes sir, I betcha.

(Hopefully, this time sans JNCOs)
posted by functionequalsform at 1:47 PM on November 11, 2010


I'm digging through my old CDs looking for the burnt RBF albums and $5 Fat Wreck comps ... it's pretty 1997 in here right now. Thanks for the flashback, ApathyGirl.
posted by penduluum at 1:51 PM on November 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


The only modern ska band I ever really liked (also the only one I could still listen to.) The perfect combo of ska, pop, and metal with some hilarious and dark lyrics.
posted by saul wright at 1:57 PM on November 11, 2010


NICE POST!
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 2:30 PM on November 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Why...? is still one of my favorite records of all time. They haven't done much I've liked since Cheer Up! but I'm still really disappointed that I have to miss their show with the Aquabats! this weekend.
posted by aaronetc at 2:59 PM on November 11, 2010


Reel Big Fish is fun, though I remember thinking when I saw them in a small venue in the middle 90s that they seemed to perform without any real joy (though technically spot-on). Perhaps that was just a function of way too much touring, as Penduluum talks about.

For me the lost ska band I mourn is Spring Heeled Jack. I might mind less if I hadn't been deprived my personal last chance to see them at the Warped Tour; one of the members decided to piss off for a drive before their set and got into a minor car accident.
posted by phearlez at 3:19 PM on November 11, 2010


SR's "Game Show" is never too far from being stuck in my mind, particularly the version from the Ska Parade comp.

Pat Sajak is a saviour, he always has a vowel for sale.
If I could pick the mayor, I'd vote for Wink Martendale.

posted by activitystory at 3:24 PM on November 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


& great first post!
posted by activitystory at 3:24 PM on November 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ska's coming back again.

Ska never left! And Less than Jake? Still touring. In the last five or so years, I've seen them in Tokyo three times. Great shows.

If you ever get a hankering for pop-culture heavy funk/ska, check out Johnny Socko. For whatever reason, they came to Rock Island twice a year, without fail, throughout my college days.
posted by Ghidorah at 3:25 PM on November 11, 2010


I remember thinking when I saw them in a small venue in the middle 90s that they seemed to perform without any real joy

Huh. I kinda thought that too, actually, when I saw them in the mid-'00s at the venue mentioned above. But I thought it was because they loathed the crowd as much as I did.
posted by limeonaire at 3:25 PM on November 11, 2010


In the 90s I saw these guys more times than I could count. Helped them push amps up to their van after a show at the Whisky once. Nice guys. Always a great show.
posted by eyeballkid at 4:03 PM on November 11, 2010


Man, I sure do love ska. Hopefully we're about to enter a cultural phase where ska becomes ironically popular again, which then leads it to being actually popular. Then I will be rich.
posted by Jon_Evil at 4:09 PM on November 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


Jon_Evil, based on your Skallelujah alone, I'd buy your album. I remember hearing about it during the cover contest, and thinking, Cohen, ska?! It's a thing of beauty, and a joy forever.
posted by Ghidorah at 4:31 PM on November 11, 2010


The Mighty Mighty Bosstones. That is all.
posted by Nauip at 4:36 PM on November 11, 2010


A Reel Big Fish thread and no one's mentioned this cover yet?

I'm ready for fourth wave ska, oh yes I am.
posted by davros42 at 4:56 PM on November 11, 2010


They put on a wicked show.
posted by rachaelfaith at 5:17 PM on November 11, 2010


I remember when they came to my little western Colorado hometown of Grand Junction. My high school's one and only ska band - The Kamikaze Pilots - opened for Zebrahead, who opened for Reel Big Fish. I almost got thrown out of the recently renovated Mesa theater on Main Street for crowd surfing. Yes my friends, I was a red blooded suburban rebel. Oh and then we saw the band in Denny's afterward. The chains hooking our collective wallets to our belt loops trembled in excitement.
posted by vorpal bunny at 5:59 PM on November 11, 2010 [1 favorite]




Woooooo, it's like this thread is all my favorite music from high school. Less Than Jake! Reel Big Fish! Save Ferris! Spider Nick and the Maddogs! (Thanks Tyrone for letting play in your bands)

Yay!
posted by Brian Puccio at 6:15 PM on November 11, 2010


Hopefully we're about to enter a cultural phase where ska becomes ironically popular again, which then leads it to being actually popular.

Could be on to something. I saw The English Beat about 2 months ago, and the crowd seemed enthusiastic. Ran the spread from 15 years older than me to 15 years younger. Stranger things have happened ...
posted by penduluum at 6:28 PM on November 11, 2010


I'll let you in on a little secret... All My Best Friends Are Metal Heads.
posted by drezdn at 6:38 PM on November 11, 2010


Woo! I crowd surfed for ther first time @ the first Ska Against Racism, in Denver, in a knee brace, and I lost my crutches! Woooooo!
posted by MNDZ at 7:47 PM on November 11, 2010


Dude, Toasters.
posted by bardic at 9:15 PM on November 11, 2010


If you want the very, very best of third wave ska, you look no further than St. Louis' MU330. Their combination of ska, punk, hardcore, and metal was something to behold, as were there intense live shows.
posted by bengalsfan1 at 9:23 PM on November 11, 2010


They also have the best cover of the Disneyland Main Street Electrical Parade theme ever. As a SoCal kid, I have a lot of memories of the Main Street Electrical Parade, and their version brought all of that rushing back, something that I think more than a few SoCal Mefites will agree with.

Linky (Just ignore the stupid video
posted by Punkey at 9:32 PM on November 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


If you want the very, very best of third wave ska, you look no further than St. Louis' MU330. Their combination of ska, punk, hardcore, and metal was something to behold, as were there intense live shows.

Quoted for truth. Grew up in STL in the 90's, I saw MU330 tons. Fantastic live show, but how could you not with a trombone player thought he was Hulk Hogan? I was just listening to the Urge on the way home from school. Another great STL ska/funk/rock band.

I'm surprised no one has linked this cover of Op Ivy's "Unity". I think I got a tape sampler of RBF's first album when I was in high school and played the shit out of this song in my Honda. I need to load up some more of my old ska albums for my walk to and from school. Thanks for the post ApathyGirl!
posted by friendlyjuan at 10:35 PM on November 11, 2010


I was hoping to spark a lovely little convo about ska that would turn me on to stuff I'd never heard before, and you guys never disappoint!

Punkey -O! M! G! I can't believe I've never heard that before! I... words fail me. Pure win.

Speaking of pure win.. Jon-evil: Brilliant cover. Can't wait to share with all my non-MeFi friends.
posted by ApathyGirl at 10:42 PM on November 11, 2010


Probably should have linked these earlier, I think. Goldfinger put out some great pop standard covers, as well, if you like your covers 1990's punk/ska flavored.

Goldfinger - Rio (with a brief aside into Dio, as in Ronnie James)
Goldfinger - 99 Red Balloons
posted by Punkey at 11:08 PM on November 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


I love you guys so much.

friendlyjuan: I think I've seen the Urge about as much as I've seen Reel Big Fish, which is to say, a lot. Man, did they put on a show, and they had stage presence. My brother often told me stories about getting to see them at $5 shows with their buddies, 311. I was intensely jealous.

I never did get to see MU330. My closest brush with them came from a math teacher who went to SLUH where MU330 got their start, who said that MU330 is the name of their jazz band program, as in MUsic 330. I'm sure this is common knowledge, though. I've also met countless people who claim they've been to the Dairy Queen mention in "Hoosier Love," though I doubt that.

And, yeah, I want to nth that RBF puts on a great show. I always had fun. I would have seen them in Seattle if I hadn't caught the PAX Flu last year.

PS -- Did I say I love you guys? I love you guys.
posted by gc at 2:25 AM on November 12, 2010


Oh, hey St. Louis ska fans: Anyone remember Fat Cactus? The Hawaiian Shirt Song was more or less my anthem in high school. To this day I regret not picking up their EP that one time I saw it at Vintage Vinyl.
posted by gc at 5:36 AM on November 12, 2010


TheMidnightHobo: "I'm shocked that no one's linked to Streetlight Manifesto yet!"

meh, Streetlight is OK, but they'll never top their first attempt at greatness: Catch 22.
c.f. Keasbey Nights, 9mm and a 3 piece suit, 1234, 1234, Kristina She Don't Know I Exist


(what's worse is that Streetlight re-recorded Catch 22's Keasbey Nights album in full - and it's boring in comparison. Friends don't let friends listen to that version of this album.)
posted by namewithoutwords at 6:00 AM on November 12, 2010


Nobody's mentioned The Gadjits yet either, I see. At Ease is a great album.
posted by phearlez at 10:09 AM on November 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ugh, tell me about it, namewithoutwords. Catch 22's Kristina... man, pure fantastic. I'd say Streetlight's newest album is about on par with they're older stuff, though. And they're great live, to boot. Nothin' on Reel Big Fish, but still.
posted by TheMidnightHobo at 12:06 PM on November 12, 2010


I really liked Reel Big Fish in high school.

And then high school ended, abruptly, early, with the Grand Forks flood of '97. We evacuated to Minneapolis for a while, and I heard on the radio that RBF was doing a benefit show for... Grand Forks.. at 7th street entry. Of course I had to go.

I remember there being an absolutely gigantic line, which I tried to skip by saying the benefit was for me. No dice. I think I should've tried harder, cause, come on! It was a food drive to benefit me!

I had been to a decent number of little punk and ska shows locally, but hadn't spent all that much time in Minneapolis, so I wasn't really prepared for how small hot and packed 7th st entry was. I didn't try to get anything to drink, and just danced my ass off... until I nearly blacked out. First time the world had ever gone wonky before my eyes, and luckily the bar gave me a big glass of water so I avoided actually falling over.

I'm sad to report that this is not one of Those Metafilter Stories that ends with me meeting the band because of the show and still being in contact with them and immediately sending them this link where my favorite website is talking about them. But you can pretend if you want. I won't tell.
posted by flaterik at 1:40 PM on November 12, 2010


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