Reel Big Fish/Less Than Jake/Ballyhoo! – Sherman Theater – Stroudsburg, PA – 6/6/15

My first real show after my “hiatus” and it was a great show to get back into the swing of things.  Deemed the Summer of Ska tour, this is the continuation of the winter tour featuring Reel Big Fish and Less Than Jake.  Maybe the first leg was called Winter of Ska tour?  I’m not sure if the tour has a name, but having two of the power house ska bands on tour together again can do no wrong.  This time around they brought along Maryland’s Ballyhoo!  A great addition to the tour package for this band is more of a summer band than winter.  Ballyhoo! blends the sounds of punk, pop-punk, and reggae to bring together the sound similar to bands like Sublime and Pepper.  For an opening band, you get the early crowd and not many people.  You have to go above and beyond to get the crowd to remember you.  Ballyhoo! had no problem doing this.  They performed with enough energy to win over a few new fans.  I can see these guys playing a lot of summer festivals, they already played 311’s cruise tour multiple times.  Keep an eye on Ballyhoo! for never know how soon they might blow up.

Less Than Jake was next and even though their setlist was shorter than the Philadelphia show in January, they still put on an excellent show.  Going through about 18 songs with jokes and gratitude to the fans in between songs, Less Than Jake as always look as happy as can be on stage.  I’m not sure why the setlist was short, but the best songs in their existence were played like “Dopeman”, “Automatic”, “The Ghosts of Me and You”, “Johnny Quest Thinks We’re Sellouts”, and my personal favorite “History of a Boring Town”.  Seeing Less Than Jake is always entertaining, and this time Buddy Schaub was constantly on the go.  From crawling on the floor, to wearing a girl’s bra, to going into a box seat at the beginning of “Nervous in the Alley” to play his trombone solo.  It’s amazing to think how long this band has been together and still have fun during their live set.  I said it before, fan or not, see Less Than Jake live, they will leave you entertained and happy.

Just like Less Than Jake, Reel Big Fish played a shorter set than their Philadelphia show, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t put on a good show.  The set list had the usual songs like “Trendy”, “Sellout”, etc., but I was happy to see some songs from Why Do They Rock So Hard?, like “The Set Up (You Need This)” and “The Kids Don’t Like It”.  The album is a personal favorite of mine, maybe a vinyl version would be nice, but it was nice to see some of those songs in the fold.  As always there were some covers sprinkled in their setlist like “Kiss Me Deadly” and “Brown Eyed Girl”.  It was good to see more harmonies during the show, sax player Matt Appleton seemed to be picking up more backing vocals.  Actually, I can see him becoming the new Scott as far as harmonies go.  Even though the setlist was short, I can’t complain, it is always great to see Reel Big Fish live and since this is my second of the year hopefully I can make it a third.

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