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With Saturday night's usual 10pm curfew in Rock City and three bands set to perform, doors unsurprisingly open at the early time of 6:30pm with The JB Conspiracy appearing a mere fifteen minutes later. Rattling through a fast-paced, blink-and-you'd-miss-it half hour of lively ska-punk material, the Guildford based septet are tight, energetic and entertaining, a sentiment echoed within the audience as many move along to their two-tone influenced tunes. From opener 'Pipe Down' to set closer 'This Machine', The JB Conspiracy epitomise everything that's great about ska-punk in the twenty first century by fusing genre traits of yore with a more forward-thinking mentality in their compositions. A great opening act and great fun.
Saturday 28th January 2012
Rock City in Nottingham, UK
Reviews & Photography by Mark Holmes
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Last on these shores in October 2011 as opening act on Bowling For Soup's autumn tour, Orange are back over from the States again, elevated up the bill this time as main support to Reel Big Fish. Although their presence widens the generic scope of bands on the tour with their brand of power pop punk and, for me, are a welcome addition in offering something different from the ska-punk of the openers and headliners, judging by the non-too lively crowd reaction it seems many disagree. British born frontman Joe Dexter is his usual lively self as he prances energetically around the stage between singing parts and guitarists Perry Ladish and Alec Gomez are equally dynamic, occasionally leaping into the air, but their efforts seem only to be appreciated by a small minority in Rock City this evening. Undeterred, Orange still do their thing for half an hour and at least attract a few cheers towards the end of their set.
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One way to "cheat" Rock City's 10pm curfew and extend your set is to come on stage ten minutes before your scheduled time which is exactly what Reel Big Fish do in what is an impressively quick switch-over between bands. Beyond demonstrating a hunger and enthusiasm to play it also shows massive respect towards their fans in providing them with more music. And such respect is discernibly reciprocal between band and audience throughout the evening as each time frontman Aaron Barrett demands "everybody jump up and down", the entire venue erupts from front to back without any hesitation (with the exception of a few bodies by the bar but leaping up and down while trying to pay for a beer would just be a bit weird). And only a rare few occasions have I felt the whole floor moving beneath my feet in Rock City but such is people's enthusiasm for Reel Big Fish and the lively crowd reaction they engender.

Commencing with 'Everything Sucks', swiftly followed by 'I Want Your Girlfriend To Be My Girlfriend Too', the hour and forty minutes of music that follows is filled with a plethora of anthemic, sing-along slabs of ska-punk drawn from Reel Big Fish's impressively big back catalogue of crowd pleasers. Literally every track aired tonight propels the audience into mass movement as the venue transforms into one big happy and friendly mosh pit. And ignoring Rock City's strict "no crowd surfing" policy, some cheeky punters elevate themselves from the masses, surf towards the front, and just as security are poised to pluck 'em out, manage to dip back down into the crowd. It's an oft repeated pattern throughout the night although a small number of unfortunate fans wind up surfing all the way to the front to be grabbed by security and then presumably ejected from the venue as per the policy.

Performance-wise, Reel Big Fish are on fine form this evening - tight, dynamic and a fuck load of fun. Between-song banter is not as full-on or frequent as that which can be heard on their double live album 'Our Live Album is Better Than Your Live Album', with the band opting to fill their set time with as much music as possible. The expected humour and band member jesting is still present, just rather sporadically and includes when they introduce pre-encore set closer as 'Tequila', play said song for a few bars before stopping with Aaron stating they don't really know that track anyway, then says the next one's actually called 'Sambuca' but, of course, they perform 'Beer'. 'Beer' finishes, the band exit the stage, and return just a few moments later for their perennially popular display of poly-genre versatility with 'S.R.'. It's not only impressive to witness the band switch between styles - the usual ska-punk, punk rock, country, disco, death metal etc - with pure, consummate ease, but interesting to see the audience also react in different ways depending on the changing music. Aaron demands circle pits, head-banging and moshing etc to which the crowd oblige en masse. 'Another F.U. Song', 'Sell Out' and their inventive cover of A-ha's 'Take On Me' wrap up the night which all in all has been a hugely fun time for all. Reel Big Fish really are the perfect antidote to all of the world's current doom and gloom.
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