Reel Big Fish / Anti-Flag / Ballyhoo! / Direct Hit @ the Pageant, St. Louis, MO

Words and photos by Duane Clawson
So far, my 2017 has been about as diverse in live music coverage as it gets!  Moving from Kid Rock on NYE to Anti-Flag and Reel Big Fish a few days later, is diversity at its finest. T he bands listed on the Reel Big Fish, Turn the Radio Off 20th Anniversary Tour were also very diverse.  Opening band, Direct Hit and co-headliner Anti-Flag, covered the punk sounds, while Reel Big Fish and Ballyhoo! took care of the Pop, Ska, Reggae, and Rock end of the business.

Direct Hit, a punk band from Milwaukee, had the honor of warming up a more than cozy and packed Pageant.  Direct Hit defines their music as Diapercore, (looked for a definition on Google, none found) but I’ll call them Punk.  With song titles like “Paid in Brains” and “We’re Fucked”, this band left little doubt that they were here to do one thing, “Punk it Up” a notch.

Ballyhoo!, now a 22-year-old band and voted the Tallest Band in 2013, brought some stability to the stage, as the #2 band on tonight’s quadruple bill.  Smooth, pure, Reggae flowed from the speakers while lead singer/guitarist, Howi Spangler, bounced to the Ballyhoo! beat.  Co-lead singer and keyboardist, Scott Vandrey, kept it interesting when front and center with his leaping abilities, which made for a couple of interesting photo opportunities!

Co-headliner, Anti-Flag, 29-year veterans of the punk scene pulled out all the stops prior to Reel Big Fish’s arrival on stage.  Ant-Flag’s music sends out punk vibes but the band promotes, peace, love, and non-violence, all very confusing, but definitely a unique band.  Band leader and founder, Justin Sane, leaps, just as he did 20 years ago, (maybe with less frequency) throughout the band’s Die for the Government 20th Anniversary set.  Bassist Chris #2 promotes a full out mosh pit during the show and later encourages audience members to put their arm around the person standing next to them.  I told you it was confusing.  Putting a cherry on top of the set with a cover of The Clash’s, “Should I Stay or Should I Go"!

The balancing act between all four bands came full circle as Reel Big Fish took the stage.  The immediately recognizable Ska bassline of “I Want Your Girlfriend to be My Girlfriend Too” lit a spark in the room, that would remain lit for the next hour and a half!  Frontman, band founder, and last original member, Aaron Barrett, kept the vibe of Huntingdon Beach in his Hawaiian shirt and checker-rimmed glasses.  The Fish covered all of Turn the Radio Off front to back, saving their semi-hit, “Beer” until the end of their main set.  Big Fish have certainly not lost their zest for performing as they hit nearly 40 cities in a month and a half.  The rowdiness of the horn section makes everyone in the house feel good about seeing this show.  The Fish’s feel good continues right up to the end with a finale cover of A-ha’s “Take On Me”.  So If you’re fishing for an eclectic night of music, you should reel in this show!  Bad humor, I know.  Thanks to The Pageant staff and crew for their hospitality and to the Reel Big Fish management team for letting us be there.  Photos of the show are below:

Reel Big Fish
Contributed by Duane Clawson
Reel Big Fish / Anti-Flag / Ballyhoo! / Direct Hit @ the Pageant, St. Louis, MO Reel Big Fish / Anti-Flag / Ballyhoo! / Direct Hit @ the Pageant, St. Louis, MO Reviewed by Scott Rowe, Editor on January 11, 2017 Rating: 5
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