SHOW REVIEW: Reel Big Fish/My Superhero/Engine 54
Portland, Oregon 4/11/97 (La Luna)
By: Alex Steininger
Whenever ska shows are advertised in Portland, they get heavy turn outs, but this show was a sell out and then some! In front of a crowd of around 1,200 (La Luna only holds around 1,000) the night was just beginning.
The first band on the nights bill was Engine 54. An up and coming two tone ska band from Olympia, Washington. They played very mellow, danceable tunes, full of thick horns, and some upbeat guitar you could dance too. Although they were interesting, the crowd didn't get into them very much. They would have been better suited opening up for another two tone band. Tonight the crowd wanted fast paced, intense, move-to-the-music ska.
The next band up was My Superhero, hailing from Southern California. Mixing their pop-rock with ska beats, and adding an accordion as well as a moog, this band was a perfect treat for tonight! Serving up a health dose of what everyone wanted: ska music you could dance too, and fast paced rhythms that will guarantee you run out of energy by the end of the night. They played some material off their latest release "Solid State 14," as well as other material they have written, including a cover of "Big City," by Operation Ivy. This time the crowd seemed interested in the band on stage, and started moving to show their approval. As the more and more people started dancing, My Superhero kept churning out the music. Then half-way through their set the power went out! Obviously a technical glitch, La Luna staff rustled around trying to figure out the problem. Around five to ten minutes later they got the problem corrected, and they went back into their set, with more energy than they possessed when the power failure occurred. After playing a few more songs, they were done with their set. They warmed up the crowd perfectly for the next band.
Now it was time for the headliner, and the band that had attracted everyone to the show, Reel Big Fish! As the band's crew was setting up, the band was backstage, running around saying they didn't want to wait, they wanted to go on right now! How is that for dedication? The band is so true to the fans, they didn't want to have to make their fans sit for nearly a half hour while the anticipation mount! No, they wanted to go on right away! Finally the gear was set up and they headed onto the stage! The fans went wild, and Reel Big Fish jumped into their first number. The floor went crazy with everyone getting off their feet and dancing. The nice vocals of Aaron Barrett filled the club, while the golden sound of the horns soaked into everyones body. The drum beats were faced and intense, and Andrew Gonzales played his drums with a such love. You could tell the band truly enjoys performing in front of a crowd, and tonight was no exception. The band kept at it, playing material from their latest release, "Turn the Radio Off," on MOJO Records. They also threw in some interesting covers of "Take On Me," by A-HA, and "Unity," by Operation Ivy. They even served up a real treat for everyone, they played "In The Pit," off their split 7" (also on MOJO.) The crowd seemed very impressed, as was I, by the tremendous energy the band was putting out on this night. But like they say, all good things must come to an end, and this show was no exception. After an hour or so of stage time, Reel Big Fish's set was over. The band left the stage, and RBF's crew started to clear up the stage. But wait, the crowd didn't seem to want to go. They were shouting they wanted more! One of RBF's crew members ran back to tell the band the crowd wanted more. Aaron Barrett said out loud, "It's stupid to just do encores if they are pre-planned. But if they want more, we will give it to them." A band truly committed to it's fans. So Aaron and Andrew started talking, and went around asking the band if they should go give them an encore. At first Andrew said he would just go out and give them a drum solo, and as he left for the stage, the band followed. The band told the crowd they weren't going to give them an encore, but if they wanted it here it was! They burst into a song. And everyone filed out from backstage and started watching the encore. After one song, Mike from My Superhero was trying to convince some friends to go jump on stage during the next number. And as Reel Big Fish burst into their next number, some members of My Superhero and some friends went up and jumped around on stage for about 45 seconds. Reel Big Fish then went into one more song and ended up the night.
The crowd left very pleased. We had all witnessed a great show! Everyone went home happy, and the band had once again proven why they are currently rising in popularity