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Live Review: Reel Big Fish, Goldfinger, Zebrahead

29 November 2012 | 9:55 am | Tom Hersey

The so-so new album gets a look in – and Don’t Stop Skanking and Everyone Else Is An Asshole work much better live than on the record – but tonight’s more about the band’s back catalogue of hits.

More Goldfinger More Goldfinger

With summer looming, the masses flock into The Tivoli tonight to dance one last time before heat dissuades such activity. But prior to the venue exploding into a flurry of pointy elbows and the wild kicks of the skanking masses, there's a short set from California's Zebrahead. The five-piece are one of the most unique blends of modern alternative music. Their slot is a colourful mix of punk, rock, metal and rapcore. All this genre-dabbling garners a rave response from the pockets of committed Zebrahead fans throughout the crowd, but indifference from everybody else; all of what they are doing doesn't seem to capture the attention of the non-committed. Their medley of Spice Girls and Britney Spears covers doesn't help things either.

It's been a rough month for Goldfinger. Frontman John Feldmann kicked out the rest of the band only weeks before tonight's show. What seems like a recipe for disaster turns out fantastically for Feldmann however, as it allows him to enlist the services of Reel Big Fish's Aaron Barrett to play guitar and MxPx's Mike Herrera on bass for this tour. With a little help from RBF's brass section, Feldmann and these hired guns make a show out of all the band's hits, focussing on their late-'90s ska material. Mable, Superman and closer 99 Red Balloons – which Feldman doesn't even seem sick to death of at this point – are all winners.

Since Reel Big Fish were in Australia last they lost trumpet player/second guitarist/all-round dudebro Scott Klopfenstein and released a so-so new record, so there's some doubts lingering that they might not be able to go one up on Goldfinger's superb set. But then the six-piece take to the stage and proceed to deliver one of their most energetic, infectiously fun performances on Australian soil. Klopfenstein's presence ceases to be a concern when Barrett introduces the crowd to the band's newest member, saxophonist 'Saxl Rose', and spends all the time between songs cracking wise with trombone player Dan Regan. The so-so new album gets a look in – and Don't Stop Skanking and Everyone Else Is An Asshole work much better live than on the record – but tonight's more about the band's back catalogue of hits. Reworked to fit the current line-up, cuts like Where Have You Been?, Ban The Tube Top and She Has A Girlfriend Now are all a blast. The crowd heaves together as a sweaty mass as the Fish offer up gags, a half-hearted but wholly hilarious cover of Call Me Maybe and set standout Beer. When they close out the night with their biggest hits, Sell Out and their reworking of a-ha's Take On Me, Reel Big Fish leave the room equal parts exhausted and elated.