Thursday, October 6, 2016

Reel Big Fun

I think I've pulled my man into my mid-thirties crisis. We've been out dancing past our bedtime several times in the past couple years; I'm starting to layer silver chains around my neck for special occasions; and just this past Saturday we went to a concert that had a mosh pit. If my guy starts painting his face with black make-up and wearing high-heeled boots like his once-favorite band Kiss, then I'll know we've gone too far.

Speaking of that Saturday concert, it was totally worth it until Matthew and I had to wake up early the next morning for church with bags under our eyes and slush in our veins. It occurred to us then that instead of going to a concert that started at 9:30 at night, we should have gone to one that ended by eight. We would have been home in time to watch our Brit-coms on PBS!

But we just couldn't miss this band. During his college days Matthew was big into Ska music, and the first concert he ever went to was Reel Big Fish, a Ska band. He still has the T-shirt, in fact.

Our cool friends, Holly and her husband Chip, who started dating in high school and attended two proms together (how many married couples can say that?), once upon a time followed Reel Big Fish (RBF) around the East Coast from one venue to another. Holly heard that RBF was playing Octoberfest in town and invited us to come along for a night filled with dark beer and deafening music.

Like a bunch of college kids, we waited in long, packed lines for beer from plastic cups and messy food served on floppy plates, and I really began to regret my wardrobe choice of skinny jeans, cowboy boots and a jacket on a very warm first night of October crowded with festival-goers.

Somewhere around nine, we found seats not far from the stage. In the spirit of Octoberfest, we procured more beer and ate warm, sticky fry bread with powdered sugar as we chatted and waited for the band to take the stage.

Being the only one in the group unfamiliar with the band, I listened as Holly and Chip recounted the concerts they had attended, then told of a handwritten note in Sharpie from the band's Hawaii-shirt-and-checkered-sunglasses-wearing lead singer and of how Chip checker boarded the hood of his car in high school with permanent marker to show his devotion to the band.

Then Holly told us about a recent Madonna spectacle; Matthew and Chip mildly debated the merits of Def Leopard as live performers; and I said we should all go to a Tom Petty concert if we ever got the chance.

At last, with instruments held high, RBF jogged out to cheers and applause from an exuberant crowd. Ska music, combining elements of reggae and rhythm and blues, is nothing if not good for dancing, so everyone began to move as soon as the trumpet player blew that first note, and the mosh pit quickly developed into a cyclone of jumping, jostling young men - one with green and purple spiked hair at least a foot high. Soon everyone was flattening folding chairs and pushing them into piles like unruly fire wood. I shoved my suffocating jacket off one shoulder, swinging my hips. Matthew, Holly and Chip sang catchy lyrics, flashing broad smiles of nostalgia at one another, and I joined the rambunctious choruses.

Of course, as Holly promised, the members of the band were also great showmen. Several times they started to play huge radio hits from the 1990s, putting their own punk style into the arrangements, and then stopped and announced, "Oh, that wasn't us! That was so and so," purposefully naming the wrong famous group, causing the crowd to laugh and whistle. The lead singer also teased his bandmate about how many trumpet solos he was racking up.

Matthew had kept his hair natural and free for the occasion - no spray gel! - so he kept pushing his left hand through his thick mop to keep it off his forehead as he danced. I found it sexy and adorable; it made him look like that college boy I never actually got to spend time with. From my man I turned often to look at Holly and Chip jumping up and down to the beat like a couple of teenagers and dancing together virtually nonstop, obviously reliving high school days. Chip even braved the mosh pit, though Matthew warned that he wouldn't rescue him, but soon returned with this critique: "It smells in there!"

Though I thoroughly enjoyed the music, if not always the rambunctious crowd and warm weather, my favorite part of the night was watching how much fun Matthew, Holly and Chip were having together at the concert of a favorite band.

Observing my enthusiasm as I danced and sang along, especially when they covered Morrison's "Brown-eyed Girl", Matthew asked me if I still wanted him to get rid of his RBF T-shirt from college, full of holes and faded from years of faithful wearing.

I quickly shook my head and grinned.

"No," I assured him.


  1. Great post! I love the title too. RBF really does put on the best live show I've ever seen and it was so much fun seeing them with you guys!

    1. We had a blast! We should do stuff like that with you guys more often.


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