By Francesco Albanese
Reel Big Fish and Anti-Flag made a pit stop at Boston’s House of Blues Sunday, the 15th with special guests Ballyhoo! and Direct Hit. After twenty years of both Reel Big Fish’s “Turn the Radio Off” and Anti-Flag’s “Die for Your Government,” these genre veterans are on the road across the country looking to stir up some mayhem and deliver some comedy gold.
The first act of the night, Direct Hit, dove in headfirst holding nothing back and revved up the crowd with a fast-paced, raw punk sound. The quartet rocked tracks from their most recent album, “Wasted Mind” and of course some older tracks made an appearance as well, like “The World is Ending (No One Cares).” These guys were nothing but high-energy, a great set to just get the crowd started. Second up was Maryland’s Ballyhoo! The reggae-rock group energized the crowd with their tight and bouncy sounds giving the crowd a taste of their summertime beach vibes in the middle of a cold January. Their stage presence left nothing to be desired as they energized the crowd, but also serenading them with frontman Howi Spangler’s smooth vocals.
Then of course we had the punk powerhouse, Anti-Flag, up next as the first main act of the night. The venue went dark before the lights poured onto the crowd and we were graced with their wild energy and no-holds barred attitude opening with the track “You’d Do the Same”. The band was celebrating the twentieth anniversary of their debut album “Die for the Government” and just rocking tracks like “Drink, Drank, Punk,” “The Press Corpse.” The band also treated the crowd to an old punk classic, a cover of The Clash’s “Should I Stay or Should I Go.” While this band revels in their rebellious attitude, they let the crowd see their caring side by stopping the show entirely to make sure an individual crowd member wasn’t being trampled on in the raging mosh pit and preaching that while they aim to get the crowd wild, their fans’ safety comes first. The band finished their set with “Brandenburg Gate,” getting everyone ready for the wild party that was to ensue next.
Finally, the entertainers everyone was waiting for, Reel Big Fish. The six-piece ska-punk vets came right out of the gates with their rendition of the classic “Olé Olé Olé” battle cry, then right into their classic hit “I Want Your Girlfriend to Be My Girlfriend Too.” Just like Anti-Flag, the band was also celebrating the twentieth anniversary of their own album “Turn the Radio Off,” and treated us to the entire album’s track listing. Tracks like “She Has a Girlfriend Now,” “241,” and one of their most famous offerings, “Sell Out.” In between songs, these comedians showed off their material of toilet humor, leaving us in tears, adding to the non-stop party and feeding the already tumultuous crowd. Each guitar shred just gave more and more energy to the whirlwind in the middle of the venue floor. We were even lucky enough to have been treated by their quick cover of The Mighty Mighty Bosstones’ “The Impression That I Get” and finally gave the crowd one of their flagship songs “Beer.” The party didn’t stop there, the band gave us an encore of four extra songs, finally saying goodbye with their famous cover of A-ha’s “Take On Me.” While their tour in the northeast may be over, if you’re lucky enough to get the opportunity, check them out while you still can on the last half of their country-wide tour! Remaining tour dates can be found on the band’s website.
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