It’s been a rough winter, folks – even by Chicago’s standards. But while you’ve been inside sippin’ cocoa, So-Cal natives Reel Big Fish have spent the season battling the brutal sub-zero temperatures with energizing music on their Don’t Stop Skankin’ Tour. Accompanied by the Suburban Legends, RBF brought the Cali heat to The Castle Theatre in Bloomington, giving fans an escape from the cold.
Beebs and Her Money Makers started the night off with a wild set that woke up the crowd. Though it seemed like the crowd wasn’t too familiar with their music, the group managed to capture everyone’s attention and leave people talking. From their cover of chart-topping “Wrecking Ball” to the dancing hot-dog that joined them on stage, Beebs & co. definitely left an impression on spectators.
For me, the highlight of the night was the Suburban Legends. Maybe because it was my first time seeing them live, or maybe because I’m a sucker for Disney tunes. Whatever the case, the crowd finally shook the cold by this point and got moving. Covers of the Duck Tales theme song, the Lion King’s “I Just Can’t Wait to Be King”, and what is arguably Neil Diamond’s greatest hit “Sweet Caroline” were sprinkled within the set, making it hard to believe that the night could be topped. Everyone in sight was dancing (and drinking) and singing along together. It was the kind of picturesque moment you would expect to find at a ska show.
But sadly their set seemed to end as quickly as it began, and it was time for the headliners to take center stage. Reel Big Fish always put on a great show, and this night was no exception. Fan favorites like “The Kids Don’t Like it” and “Trendy” kept everybody moving, and about halfway through their set Beebs joined them on stage to help perform “I Know You Too Well to Like You Anymore,” off of their latest album Candy Coated Fury, and “She Has a Girlfriend Now.”
After leaving the stage without playing their most well-known song “Beer,” fans grew rowdy and demanded an encore, which the band gladly obliged to. In typical RBF fashion, they paraded back on stage to close the night with their famous drinking anthem and their cover of 80’s hit “Take On Me.”
After an enjoyable night of skanking, fans had the chance to head out front to meet with their favorite musicians and swap stories from past shows. If you’ve never attended a ska show, you should check one out if given the chance, even if you aren’t a huge fan of the genre. The sense of comradery throughout the crowd is one of a kind that I’ve never experienced at any other kind of show.