MxPx, Reel Big Fish, Streetlight Manifesto, Whole Wheat Bread
at the Blue Note, Columbia MO - August 9, 2006
by Nick Mustoe


Reel Big Fish and MxPx’s summer tour passed through Columbia Missouri’s The Blue Note to offer up a workingman’s reprieve in concert form.

Getting the crowd motivated was the surprisingly good Whole Wheat Bread. Whole Wheat’s songs were decidedly punk but the band did not hide its affection toward hip-hop. It easily set itself apart from The Blue Note’s usual lackluster warm-up groups by its eclectic stage presence. Its liveliness was reminiscent of a Red Hot Chili Peppers’ music video and, to further the entertainment, Whole Wheat passed a watermelon through the crowd.

Next up was Streetlight Manifesto. Streetlight’s performance consisted of mixing Ska and Punk, proving its talent in incorporating impressive guitar, sax and trombone solos. However, as the set went on, it became apparent that Streetlight suffers from trying to find its identity between the two genres. Songs that showcased the talent of the band best were those that avoided the temptation of having one foot in Ska and one in Punk. Unfortunately, all too often Streetlight gave in to temptation and performed songs that were an unappealing battle between brass and punk.

Streetlight Manifesto was followed by a Jolly Roger skull crossed with fishing reels. It was time for Reel Big Fish. The aging band belted out songs of carefree rebellion filled with punchy lyrics and soothing bass lines. It showed a clear focus on the vocals letting the fast riffs and speedy brass parts complement Aaron Barrett’s well-written lyrics. Throughout the night the music of the suit-clad members of Reel Big Fish infused The Blue Note’s usual energized and inebriated college crowd with the spirit of “Animal House.” The performance was complete with their 1997 hit “Sell Out” and fan favorite “She Has a Girlfriend Now.” A large part of the appeal of Reel Big Fish came from its humorous and party attitude. One example was its exaggerated replaying of one of its songs in three musical styles: emo, country and death metal.

MxPx, consisting of the heavily tattooed Mike Herrera and Tom Wisniewski on bass and guitar rocked to the drums of Yuri Ruley who resembled a younger Drew Carey. Mike explained that due to problems with his voice the band had brought along their friend Tony Lovato from Mest to share the role of lead singer and play second guitar.  MxPx pleased the audience in a lively range of songs covering topics from women to college towns, defying The Blue Note in support of crowd surfing, and throwing the bass and guitar across the stage.

MxPx played many of its hits along with covers of The Ramones “The KKK Took My Baby Away” and the punk classic, Bryan Adams’ “Summer of 69.” Originating from the Seattle area, MxPx has the sound and look of California.  With the absence of godly lyrics it is hard to recognize its Christian Rock background; however, the past revels itself in the generally upbeat and positive sound. Turning what some would consider a flaw into an asset, MxPx and the concert in general provided a powerful display of talent and a healthy dose of exceeded expectations. 

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