Cat-eyed sunglasses atop a Sid Vicious-looking frame? Red mohawks attached to bodies sporting flamingo button-ups? Yeah, not quite, but don’t put it past yourself. On Thursday night two iconic Warped Tour legends, Anti-Flag and Reel Big Fish, respectfully, brought their atypical, eccentric Turn Off the Radio, Die for the Government tour to the Belasco Theatre in downtown Los Angeles.
Opening the night were the Candian boys in the jolly named band Pkew Pkew Pkew. If their name doesn’t make you want to rewatch all of the Star Wars, or maybe a few episodes of the Jetsons, get lost. Songs such as “Blood Clot” and the well-known track “Mid 20’s Skateboarder” rattled over the PA system, hyping the audience for a night weighted with skanking and moshing. In a quote to GSM regarding how the show went Pkew Pkew Pkew stated, “Burt Reynolds was 100% definitely there and he loved it, so I guess it was alright.” We then questioned the authenticity of the quote to which the band replied, “No. But it was a heavily circulated rumor. It had legs backstage.” It’ll be exciting to see where these gents/comedians are in the next year or so. Keep an eye on them!
Shortly following Phew Phew Phew’s set Ballyhoo! took the stage. Lead singer/guitarist Howi Spangler and his beautiful mess of bandmates performed an engaging set. With tracks such as “Mixtape” and the super appropriate “Cali Girl,” the East Coast reggae/pop/rock band quartet rattled the audience with their musicianship. The band has a new album coming out March 24th titled Girls on Right Coast Records.
Once the clock struck 8:40PM, Chris Barker (aka Chris #2) dashed his way on stage along with the rest of the punk rock all-stars from Pittsburgh, PA, Anti-Flag. Barker immediately instructed the audience to put their hands together, raise their middle fingers, raise the peace sign, then proceed to count off 1-2-3-4, while instigating the quickly forming circle pit.
Against a massive upside-down flag (to protest the current state of affairs in the US), Anti-Flag performed monster tracks such as “Die for the Government” and the rarely performed “Davey Destroyed the Punk Scene.” Barker riled up the fans when it came time to play “Fuck Police Brutality,” citing the anger he continues to have for estranged, corrupt police agencies. Justin Sane, the guitarist/frontman informed us of how he wrote “Your Daddy Was a Rich Man, Your Daddy’s Fucking Dead” after reading a magazine article about a certain narcissistic, egotistical real estate tycoon from NYC.
Anti-Flag’s set was nothing short of masterful. The energy and vexing nature of their performance provided an outlet for hate and anger to be disposed of in a safe and unjudged environment. At the end of their set Barker said, “Outside of these walls, it seems like the world has gone mad, my friends. But we will always have each other, we will always have these songs.”
As if the nation righted itself during the band’s changeover, Reel Big Fish took to the stage with colorful outfits, giggles, wacky sunglasses and smiles. Aaron Barrett, being the sole survivor of the original lineup, greeted the fans with a hello and a chuckle along with sporting an orange and red Hawaiian shirt.
Formed in Los Angeles’ backyard aka Huntington Beach, CA, the ska-punk juggernauts started their set with the highly amusing track “I Want Your Girlfriend to Be My Girlfriend Too” followed by yet another comedic song “Another F.U. Song.” On the track “S.R.” Barrett is found at the beginning measures dancing whimsically with his guitar – midway through the track, he becomes Kirk Hammett (Metallica), furiously shredding his fingers away on the strings.
Near the end of the night Barrett said, “We’ll play the song we skipped – it’s everyone’s favorite song on the album,” which then fired the band into playing The Mighty Mighty Bosstones’ hit “The Impression That I Get” and then stopping to introduce it as “a song that was from a band called Smashmouth, from the ‘Shrek 2’ soundtrack.” Hysterical. The band did, in fact, perform the song they skipped, “Beer.”
All in all, the show’s lineup provided a mashup of scenes to come together as one, something that the music world needs more of. Whether you’re pro ska or pro punk, it really didn’t matter – the music was great and the performances were spot on.
REEL BIG FISH
Reel Big Fish Setlist:
“Take on Me (a-ha cover)”