Dashing into the O2 Academy a little behind schedule, we were greeted by the raucous, chugging guitars that could be no one else but Zebrahead. Looking about at the excited onlookers, I was relived to see I wasn’t the only ageing skater kid bopping about in the front row. Having seen Reel Big Fish, Less Than Jake and Zebrahead plenty of times in my mid teens, as a more mature young lady in her mid-twenties I was a little hesitant that the population of the crowd may be a majority teenie-boppers fuelled up on cheap cider (flashback to me in my teenage years). However, I was thrilled to be amongst comrades and friends, and enjoyed an evening of throwback skater songs and angsty-anthems from the pop-punk, ska-punk, US teen-rock heroes.
Fierce and funny, Zebrahead opened the show with some of their classic anthems, getting all the old ska punk rockers involved with a headbang or two. Getting the crowd warmed up for co-headliners Less Than Jake and The Reel Big Fish is quite a task, but the Zebrahead legends were certainly up to it. The attendees got moving pretty fast and I took cover in the wings whilst the crowd surfers began their routine of hurling themselves around and being dragged out by security.
Poking at the fact that they’re still touring the same old-time tunes, Zebrahead had a great sense of humour about their music and an immensely catchy energy that spread like wildfire to the top of the rafters, where, looking up, I caught a dude in his 70s knock the rest of his pint over the edge of the balcony as he bellowed out the words to Hell Yeah. Legend.
Embellishing their set with blow up dancing characters, toilet paper guns and confetti, Less Than Jake really brought the show element of the evening
Next up was Less Than Jake – a personal favourite of mine and a real statement band of the unimpressed youth. Embellishing their set with blow up dancing characters, toilet paper guns and confetti, Less Than Jake really brought the show element of the evening. Joined by a few members of Reel Big Fish’s brass section, the floor was shaking with the weight of hundreds of ska-kids bouncing about to the band’s feel good punk-influenced anthems.
the floor was shaking with the weight of hundreds of ska-kids bouncing about to the band’s feel good punk-influenced anthems
Playing with the crowd and hinting towards the fact that they are (perhaps) getting on a little now, they punctuated one of their more raucous numbers with ‘Gee, well we’ve certainly had worse nights, haven’t we? I think we’ll take this one’. Finishing up with the epic The Rest Of My Life, they exited the stage to a hilarious mimed version of Whitney Houston’s, I Will Always Love You.
Finally, having successfully reeled in a sell-out crowd at the O2 Academy, Reel Big Fish brought us a super-tight show, lots of silliness, banter and crowd-surfing. The ska-heroes haven’t aged a bit in their performance style and like to keep things super upbeat. Opening up the set with their well-known cover of Aha ’s Take On Me, they soon had the eager crowd plowing a hole into the floor of the O2 academy with fast feet and lots of skanking.
the band kept things fast and fierce with slick transitions into their popular tracks. Banging out She Has A Girlfriend Now, Trendy and Everyone Else Is An Asshole
Not resting for a minute, the band kept things fast and fierce with slick transitions into their popular tracks. Banging out She Has A Girlfriend Now, Trendy and Everyone Else Is An Asshole, to name a few, I was certainly not the only one with tears of joy rolling down my cheeks, screaming along to the comedic lyrics… Or perhaps it was sweat?
Zebrahead, Less Than Jake and Reel Big Fish had O2 Academy packed to the brims with Converse-clad ex-skaters, perhaps now with PHDs and office jobs, but leaving dripping with cider, sweat and an enduring love for the music.