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Reel Big Fish & Bowling For Soup 6.26.2019 - New Haven, CT

This past Wednesday, College Street Music Hall in New Haven, Connecticut hosted ska-punk legends Reel Big Fish and pop-punk staple Bowling for Soup.  The headliners were supported by hockey-themed (yes, you read that correctly hockey-themed) rock group The Zambonis.  I had a blast at this concert! All of the bands were light hearted and tongue and cheek, and it really created an awesome vibe for the night.  The venue, College Street Music Hall, fit these bands perfectly as well.  It was just intimate enough to remind you that you were at a ska/pop-punk show, but big enough where you can still enjoy the show comfortably.  College Street Music Hall is definitely going to be one of my preferred venues for seeing shows when they come through the area! Now, without further ado, let’s get to the show!

First up were the Zambonis.  I had never heard of the Zambonis until I looked them up in researching for this show, but they actually have a long history with some pretty interesting accomplishments along the way! Formed in 1991, the band plays nothing but songs about hockey. However, as their bio on their website says, “the band realiz[ed] hockey songs can be about hockey, life, love and hockey.  Not just hockey.”  Along the way the band got into a legal battle with The Zamboni® Company (resulting in the band becoming the first US rock band to become an official licensee of an existing brand), were featured on Nickelodeon’s Kablam!, and even were commissioned by the Boston Bruins to have their song “To Bleed Black and Gold” be the title song to a highly rated NESN documentary.  Long story short, these guys have a lot of heart and, I guess really, really love hockey.  I had a blast watching these guys perform. They kicked off their set with their official band mascot, the Hockey Monkey (because what else would it be?)  and that not only set the tone for the Zambonis’ set, but for the whole night as well!  For a relatively obscure opening band, the crowd ate them up.  You could really tell the band was having an absolute ball (or maybe puck?) on stage and that fed into the energy of the crowd.  The band crosses several genres with their sound so definitely check out a few of their songs below. 

Next up was Bowling for Soup.  Hailing from Denton, Texas, Bowling for Soup is obviously no stranger to the pop-punk scene.  I really enjoyed their set not only for the awesomely catchy hooks, but also the zany on stage antics such as stopping a song mid-way through to pose for photos as “Angle” by Sarah McLachlan played in the background and holding a comedy competition between the members of the band.  While I did really enjoy the music, for me the lighthearted and wacky nature of the band on stage made it a really fun show.  The band also did a really great job playing to the crowd with their hits like “High School Never Ends” and, of course, “1985.”  The band hit the perfect balance of a strong musical performance and not taking themselves too seriously. 

Closing out the night was Reel Big Fish.  I am by no means a ska aficionado, and in many respects, tonight was my first dive into the genre, but man did I love Reel Big Fish.  Much like the bands preceding them, Reel Big Fish had the perfect balance of talent and humor.  There’s not much that I could say about the band that hasn’t already been said, but I’ll do my best to provide a unique perspective.  As someone who was in both concert and jazz band throughout high school, I somewhat lost an appreciation for a solid brass section as I got older.  Seeing Reel Big Fish perform reminded me of the punch and energy those horns can add to a sound.  Throw in some funk and overdriven guitars and you have a recipe for a really awesome, up-beat, and energetic performance.  I used the words “fun” and “light-hearted” several times throughout this review already, but that’s really what tonight was.  Reel Big Fish released their ninth studio album this past December entitled “Life Sucks. . .Let’s Dance!” and, honestly, this title really rang true tonight.  Leave your bad day and troubles at the door and listen to some upbeat jams!  

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