Reel Big Fish and Streetlight Manifesto (Live Review)

House of Blues Cleveland
Saturday, 8 July 2006

With the closure of Club Laga and the last gasping breath of a decent music scene in Pittsburgh, I was forced to make the drive over the border to see Reel Big Fish and Streetlight Manifesto play in Cleveland.

Despite a poorly designed venue with a tiny mosh area sunk below the rest of the floor and in front of the completely misplaced and oversized sound booth, the show was certainly worth the hefty ticket price ($25) and 2.5 hour drive.

Streetlight Manifesto
Streetlight commited a musical faux pas by opening with a new song and leaving the audience a little confused. They then redeemed themselves by playing a tight set including the now-combined Point-Counterpoint + Keasbey Nights supersong and Everything Went Numb. Their set felt way too short, pretty much the same length as the other two openers, the mediocre Transition and enthusiastic Whole Wheat Bread. The lineup was also completely different, with only Tom recognizable. Apparently Catch 22 vet Josh Ansley left the band. I don’t know why he would but he will be missed. Whoever took his place did a good job, though. The lineup is different even than last time I saw them, which is never a good sign for stability or longevity. I have my fingers crossed.

It was great to see Streetlight live, especially since this will be their last tour for quite awhile since they are soon going to be writing and recording a sophomore album, but the set was simply too brief. It was probably not the band’s fault but the fans were a little disappointed. If they were going to play such a short set, they should not have played two new songs or the full combined A Moment of Silence + Violence. In any case, we were all left wanting a lot more but we’ll have to wait until probably 2007 to get it.

Reel Big Fish are always excellent live. They have a huge catalog of great songs and they always play one you forgot about. This night was no exception, with Aaron pulling out ‘Nothin’ towards the end of the set, which really made the crowd go nuts. Highlights of their great set included six versions of S.R. (including the usual death metal, hillbilly, Southern blues rock, emo) including one I’ve never heard before, in the style of the Strokes, perfectly executed with Scott even singing through a harmonica for that patented vocal sound. As usual, Scott and Aaron’s comedic back-and-forth provides a nice filler between songs.

They played one new song from their live album (which apparently is not just old material) that sounded good but it’s hard to tell from one live listen. I’m definitely going to pickup the album though, which is a triple disc mega-release on presale now on their website.

Unlike Streetlight, RBF has been around the block and had a great set sequencing. They opened and closed with two covers, starting with Aha’s Take on Me, and finishing with Op Ivy’s Unity. I couldn’t imagine a better end.

If either band comes your way, see them.