Reel Big Fish/Streetlight Manifesto | 7.20.11

The members of Reel Big Fish are professionals, and they still did their best to keep the crowd from seeing their boredom.




Streetlight Manifesto, The Pageant – St. Louis, MO           Eva Connors Photos

     On Wednesday, July 20th, Reel Big Fish returned to The Pageant for their second St. Louis tour in the past 12 months. Though they sold out with monster co-headliners The Aquabats in November 2010, this year’s co-headlining show with Streetlight Manifesto was a far more intimate affair – last year’s show saw The Pageant filled from top to bottom, whereas this year there were still tickets to spare, even with the balcony closed.

      Opening for Streetlight Manifesto and Reel Big Fish were Indiana pop-rockers Rodeo Ruby Love and in-your-face punks The Maxies, all the way from Greenland (and they didn’t let anybody forget that). For all of the innocent, happy-go-lucky, horn-tinged synth pop Rodeo Ruby Love brought to The Pageant that night, The Maxies brought a greater amount of hatred and shock.

      They railed on “Streetlight Mani-FIST-O” and “Reel Bad Farts,”  insulting the fans and the genre, and the crowd just kept on laughing. The masked men from Greenland and “Bi-Polar Bear Tom” sang about their home country and clubbing baby seals, ending their set by asking a member of the audience his band’s name so they could sing “Our Band Is Better Than Yours.”

      Like Reel Big Fish, Wednesday night’s show wasn’t Streetlight Manifesto’s first stop in St. Louis within recent months – they were here more recently in February, headlining a show at Pop’s in Sauget, IL. Though the crowd might’ve bobbed along to Rodeo Ruby Love and laughed with The Maxies, it wasn’t until Streetlight Manifesto took the stage that they really came alive. Their setlist was pulled from all over their catalog, from “We Will Fall Together” and “Down, Down, Down to Mephisto’s Café” off “Somewhere in the Between” to “Skyscraper” (originally by Bad Religion) and “Such Great Heights” (originally by The Postal Service) off their cover album “99 Songs of Revolution: Volume 1.”

      The crowd managed to surprise the band during “Here’s to Life”  when people on the floor started crouching down. Though they looked confused, they went along with it, lead singer/guitarist Tomas Kalnoky crouching on stage and dragging out the intro to build tension as he surely saw what was coming next. The rest of the band, showing their skill at adapting, waited for his cue, and when they joined in to start the song up the whole floor leapt up in a frenzy.

      Reel Big Fish ended the night, taking the stage promptly at 10 p.m. (10 minutes ahead of their 10:10 stage time). They played the usual songs, opening with “Everything Sucks,” touching on “Ban the Tube Top”  and “Good Thing” and making sure not to skip the big hits, “She Has a Girlfriend Now,” “Sell Out” and “Beer.” They played “S.R.” and its many genre-hopping variations, and they covered “Brown Eyed Girl” and closed with “Take On Me.”

      On the surface they sounded great and looked good, running around and telling jokes on stage, but they weren’t quite convincing. Their setlist is the same from day to day, and anyone would eventually tire of doing the same thing every night. Even so, the members of Reel Big Fish are professionals, and they still did their best to keep the crowd from seeing their boredom. The crowd didn’t even seem to notice the forced energy coming from the stage as they danced and drank and sang along with every song to the last note of “Take On Me.” | Eva Connors


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