An extremely multigenerational crowd at the Tuesday night looked on as The Aquabats, Reel Big Fish and Suburban Legends shredded through songs that, for the most part, gained popularity for a brief moment 10 or 15 years ago.
After all, Reel Big Fish burst onto the worldwide scene with the delightful music video to “Sell Out” in 1997.
The odd band out, opener Koo Koo Kanga Roo, represented the shift toward tunes safe for a pint-sized audience that is currently all the rage. (Christian Jacobs, the Aquabats' lead singer, is the force behind the toddlers-as-hipsters show Yo Gabba Gabba!)
That fact that most of the songs performed were remnants of the mid-'90s explosion of ska-punk bands didn’t matter to the assembled audience, which was packed with a younger generation eager to see performers they had just discovered and older folks drawn in by a longing for nostalgia. Teenagers sneaking puffs of contraband cigarettes ringed the mosh pit. In the back, those of drinking age and much, much older sipped PBR and Miller High Life. Perched on their parent's shoulders, well-behaved young tykes viewed the Aquabats with amazement.
Though these musicians are decades older than they were when they first started singing about toilet humor and dismissing parental authority, they certainly still know their fans.
Suburban Legends performed a peppy, defiant "I Just Can't Wait to be King" from The Lion King, and bringing their cultural travel full circle, peppered into their short set a ska version of "Bed Intruder Song" — a musical imagining of the Antoine Dobson viral video everyone was talking about last year.
The Aquabats, a band of thrilling and joyful performers, played songs like "Pool Party," "Super Rad" and "Captain Hampton & the Midget Pirates" alongside their own brand of zany performance art.
For the Reel Big Fish, this show marked the first tour without long-time trumpet player and singer Scott Klopfenstein. Matt Appleton filled in for the missing voice and added his tenor sax to the band's sound. While the heftier instrument brings a new and interesting tone color to the aesthetic, there are still a few kinks in his performance.
Judging by crowd noise, hearing "Sell Out," "Everything Sucks," "She Has a Girlfriend Now," "Trendy" and "Beer," was worth the price of admission.
This reliance on the past, but also the ability to weave in current events is what makes these bands still relevant. It's the same concept that is proffered by any aging band — just that The Rolling Stones, Jethro Tull et al. were more popular to begin with, have been around for many more years and can boast a fanbase that has much more disposable income.
By brining aging punk and ska bands to the neighborhood seemingly every month ( NOFX stops in on Feb. 1), the has proven itself to be the arena rock venue for Generation Y.