Home > Reviews > Live Reviews > 08/02/2014 | Zebrahead + Less Than Jake + Reel Big Fish – O2 Academy, Birmingham

08/02/2014 | Zebrahead + Less Than Jake + Reel Big Fish – O2 Academy, Birmingham

Becci Stanley


With such a ska-tastic line-up in a relatively intimate venue and considering the volume of energy shooting round the room, what could possibly be better about this show? Add in fun and games, audience participation, German death metal dancing, brass instruments and Hawaiian shirts and you have yourself the most comedic gig of the year.

All the way from scorching hot California to stormy England come Zebrahead, spreading a little bit of that sunny atmosphere with their upbeat classics such as Anthem and Hello Tomorrow. They blast around the room in raw perfection with vocals so fast they’re almost deliriously confusing, guitars so punky they punch you in the face unexpectedly then apologise with sunny pop-punk hooks and riffs laced with pounding drums shaking the walls and ceiling. German’s join them on stage for drinking games and comedic skits then getting the whole crowd to sit on the floor and jump in elation leading to one hell of a climactic set.

Second up are Less Than Jake, bringing their influential blend of ska, punk and metal to a crowd baying for the legendary on stage presence. From classic hits like All My Friends are Metalheads and Gainesville Rock City to the newest of their releases they retain their fun and sunny side as well as showing a more serious and technical progression within their musical career; their chords are sharper and faster, drum sections louder, vocals cleaner and their lyrics more passionate.

They match their energetic onstage show as they leap from side to side, shake and convulse to the beat and pull some of the strangest faces I have ever seen. Much like Zebrahead, drinking becomes a common theme as they run a dance competition to win a bottle of Jack Daniels, picking two people from the audience to win each time, which eventually turns out to be the tiniest bottle available and capturing the audience in the palms of their hands each and every time they begin their game. Though fun, their set was incredibly long and became slightly tiring and repetitive after a while leaving you ultimately glad when they finished.

Last but not least is legendary act Reel Big Fish, bringing their strange concoction of crude comedy, language and insults with ska-punk and a whole barrel of fun. Performing all their biggest hits and a few new tracks that they claim to be “what no one wants to hear at a gig”, although they steal the show almost immediately. As their banner flies down across the backdrop and the band run (not walk, not swagger) onto the stage with instruments in hand it is their show from then on. Making the audience laugh with She Has a Girlfriend Now and Everyone Else is an Asshole, we jump around the room like crazy to Beer and I Want Your Girlfriend to be my Girlfriend and scream and shout to Another F.U Song. Their set is a whirlwind of pure energy and laugher. They portray a range of emotions in their songs and within their presence on stage from silly and fun to serious and passionate in the blink of an eye yet always to the same effect – the crowd cannot get enough of them.