Reel Big Fish and Anti-Flag Celebrate Proof That Nothing Has Changed in 20 Years at the Skyway


Sunday night’s show started with a personal favorite of mine, Direct Hit! Sure, I just saw these guys in November but honestly, I could watch these guys every night and not get bored. With a perfect amount of self-deprecating jokes and catchy pop-punk (although leaning more towards the punk side) songs, Direct Hit! proved last night that playing a bigger show won’t change them. They had the same amount of energy at The Skyway Theater last night as they did when I saw them at The Triple Rock just a couple of months ago. Sure, the crowd wasn’t nearly as into it as they were at that Triple Rock show but that didn’t stop the band from proving why they are a force to be reckoned with. I truly hope being on a tour as big as this helps push these guys into the limelight because they more than deserve it.

Ballyhoo! was the other opening band for the show last night and, although they seemed to come out of left field with their reggae brand of music, they keept the crowd entertained. Their sound was different than the rest of line-up but it was clear that the crowd was loving every single second of their set. When wandering around between sets and looking at the merch I couldn’t afford, I noticed that Ballyhoo! was definitely selling the most swag and it made me happy. Some music scenes can be so cliquey but here I was at a show of a super political punk band and one of the most popular ska bands yet people were buying merch for the opening reggae band. The diversity that Ballyhoo! gave to this line-up was beautiful.

Up next was the highlight of the night for me– Anti-Flag. I have only seen these guys one other time and that was during the RNC of 2008 which took place right in Saint Paul. The same night I saw Anti-Flag at an outdoor rally protesting the RNC, my friends and I were chased down by police for supposed rioting. Needless to say, I really don’t remember much of the show part of that day so it was nice to finally get a chance to see them and remember it last night.

Anti-Flag is the first band that really got me into politics. They sang songs about things that mattered to me and used their platform to encourage change. I really admired that and found myself getting more involved in politics because of bands like Anti-Flag. Last night was the 20 year anniversary tour for their album Die For The Government and sadly, 20 years later the lyrics and songs still apply to life in today’s society with everything that’s going on.

It’s hard to put into words what it feels like to be in the crowd during an Anti-Flag set. Whether you are political or not, the feeling of passion that radiates off the stage and throughout the crowd is undeniable. The way bassist Chris #2 (aka Chris Barker) and singer Justin Sane are able to silence a rowdy crowd just by talking between songs about things they truly believe in is definitely something you have to experience. It didn’t matter how rowdy the circle pit that had taken over majority of the crowd was, as soon as a song stopped and one of them would take the microphone, the crowd would freeze and go silent.

The best moment of their set, and possibly the whole show, was when two members of the band came down into the crowd to sing a song. Now, sure, it’s not a huge surprise when the singer and a guitarist or bassist goes into the crowd. Honestly, that happens more than not but to see a band carry majority of a drum set into the crowd just to play part of a song… well I must say, that was a first for me. Bassist Chris #2 and drummer Pat Thetic got lost in a sea of people as they finished up the final song of Anti-Flag’s set from the middle of the crowd. Although I couldn’t see them all that well from where I was standing, you could see the electricity running through the crowd and it was jaw-dropping.

Finishing up the night was Reel Big Fish. They are one of those bands that I never miss when they come to town because of how much fun their shows are. Even though Reel Big Fish’s iconic ska sound was completely different than the punk sound that Anti-Flag brought to the table, it worked. To say both Anti-Flag and Reel Big Fish are legendary wouldn’t be a stretch. To be able to see those two bands together in the same night was truly a treat.

Reel Big Fish are goofy, quirky, a little bit weird and a whole lot of fun. The band members are true entertainers and, even when they aren’t playing their instruments, they engage the crowd by running around like idiots on the stage (and I mean that in the best way possible). Their music is upbeat and, with it being the 20th anniversary of their album Turn The Radio Off, they ended up playing some of their most popular songs which helped keep the crowd moving and having fun.