I was hungover for seven fucking hours in the car.
It was worth it though because the wife and I were in the thick of a brutal three week travel stretch where we were little more than two ships passing in the night. We bought tickets to Ska Brewing’s 17th Anniversary Party, which featured more than 20 breweries and the music of a Clash cover band called The Nuns of Brixton, and ska stalwarts Reel Big Fish.
I love beer, I love my wife, and I fucking love Reel Big Fish. This was an awesome trip.
The most amazing thing about Reel Big Fish is that compared to so many bands that rose to prominence during the 3rd wave ska boom of the mid-to-late 90s, they’re not only not slowing down, evolving their sound in an annoying way, or just plain old breaking up; they actually seem to be getting better. I buy every new Reel Big Fish album that comes out, and I’m continuously surprised by how much I enjoy each one.
I once wrote that Outkast’s ubiquitous “Hey Ya!” was nothing more than a Reel Big Fish song in spirit since the song is a sad treatise on the state of relationships in contemporary society dressed up in the party clothes of a breakneck club jam. For proof of its kinship, listen to “Hey Ya!” then pop in 2005’s We’re Not Happy ‘til You’re Not Happy, the angriest, sunniest, bitter, poppiest “fuck you” to a record label ever recorded. The song is the audio equivalent of Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes lighting all of Andre Rison’s shoes on fire, except without all the other collateral damage.
Then on 2007’s Monkeys for Nothin’ and the Chimps for Free, you’ll re-discover your love of the word “fuck” both on “Another F.U. Song” and “Hate You.” If there’s a band more creatively using profanity, you’re a liar and I hate you; fuck you; leave me alone (actual words from the song “Hate You”).
Then there’s Candy Coated Fury, which I picked up at the brewfest. The opening song is “Everyone Else Is an Asshole.” That’s all you need to say. If that doesn’t sound like your cup of tea right there, then Reel Big Fish probably isn’t for you.
But I’ve found in them a piece I can hang onto, and something that means a lot to me. I pretty easily default to bitter, jaded, unhappy and feeling like I’m getting screwed. I hate it. It’s crippling, and it’s counterproductive. When I listen to Reel Big Fish I know I’m not alone, and more importantly, I realize I don’t have to wear it like a goddamn heavy ass dark parka of resentment.
We’re probably all royally pissed off about something. But that doesn’t mean we have to stop skanking, bouncing, or grooving to the sunny melodies of life’s better parts. And then you remember you’re in Durango with your gorgeous wife, a cold Pinstripe in your hand, skanking to the best ska band of all-time.
Thanks, Reel Big Fish. Every other band is an asshole.