Lights flashed, loud music played and a sweaty audience moshed as Reel Big Fish performed at Springfest. Around 350 students walked into a transformed gym Saturday, April 14. Where half court once sat, there was a stage equipped with hanging lights.
“We’re the stress relief before finals come, which is very needed,” John Christianson, Reel Big Fish trumpet player and backing vocals, said.
The ska-punk band is from Southern California. They became popular in the mid-to-late 1990s.
“College age is kind of our age group,” Dan Regan, Reel Big Fish trombone player and backing vocalist, said. “So it’s definitely really helpful to come do shows like this.”
Although Reel Big Fish has had hit songs, Christianson said getting asked to sign autographs is something that doesn’t happen often. But he said the band is still grateful for their success.
“This is an opportunity that such a small amount of people in the world get to do,” Christianson said. “We can really appreciate this because I think most of us all had other jobs at one time where we had to really work. This is so much more fun.”
Courtney Turner, program manager for campus activities, said they started planning for Spring Fest during the winter.
“We decided Reel Big Fish fit the more Webster style of music,” Turner said. “Reel Big Fish is very entertaining and we have a band that won the battle of the bands, and aspires to be them so it worked really well.”
Samuriot, a ska band comprised of Webster students, earned the opportunity to open for Reel Big Fish after winning a battle of the bands competition. Tyler Jensen, junior music education major and Samuriot drummer, said his band is definitely influenced by Reel Big Fish.
“It was a really great time,” Jensen said. “It was a bigger audience than we usually play for and we were opening for a band that has so much influence on ours. It was a concert we will definitely remember.”
During their performance at Springfest, Samuriot threw Twinkies and Lunchables at the audience.
A few of the songs Christianson said he likes to perform are “Beer,” “Take on Me” and “Another F.U. song.” They played all three of these songs at the concert.
“I like any song where everybody sings along and that makes people happy,” Christianson said.
Jensen said Reel Big Fish put on a fantastic show.
“They were full of their usual jokes and gimmicks,” Jensen said. “They sounded just as good as they did back in the 1990s.”
Christianson and Regan said they both have learned important things aspiring musicians and performers should keep in mind.
“Don’t be a jerk.” Christianson said. “So much of it is helping you to achieve your goals. You never know who is going to have a band or runs an event where they will need music.”
Christianson also said keeping commitments is very important.
“I hate to break it to everybody, but we are actually a responsible group,” Christianson said. “We all realize that this is our career, and we take it really seriously.”
Regan said he has never given up his passion for ska music.
“This has been my job for almost two decades now,” Regan said. “We have been a band for 20 years and I would like to think we are better than all the other ska bands that we grew up with. But a lot of it was that they just quit. We just kind of outlasted everybody.”
Christianson said the fans keep him going.
“When I get to meet fans that say we inspire them to pick up an instrument or that a song or an album has helped them through a rough time, to have that positive effect on people is all you can ask for in your life,” Christianson said. “That’s what makes me practice everyday.”