Review wrttten by: Pat James
The day after Independence Day…a day when many people are nursing burns, a hangover or both – my girl and I (nursing neither) made the trek to Lincoln to check out The Beer Run tour. This tour, unlike many others, made the effort to bring together many different styles of music and it succeeded wonderfully. The lineup included Tunnel Vision (Surf Rock/Reggae), The Queers (Old School Punk), The Expendables (Reggae/Rock/Punk/Metal) and headliners Reel Big Fish (Ska). The multifaceted lineup brought in a wide ranging and diverse crowd who showed up on a Wednesday night looking to have a good time and was given that in spades.
Starting off the night was Tunnel Vision from San Clemente, CA. The 5 piece band loves the stage and the stage loves them right back. They all seemed completely at home under the lights and that came through in their performance. Their bouncy blend of Surf Rock, Reggae and Ska evokes thoughts of the beach and the ocean. Hayden Hanson (vocals & guitar) had an infectious smile on his face throughout the performance (one still there hours later when I ran across him in the crowd) that clearly showed how much fun he was having. He wasn’t the only one either as his bandmates all seemed to be thoroughly enjoying themselves. Jacob Hernandez (Bass), Tanner Payan (Drums), Matt Risley (Keys) & Doug Alani (Sax) all seemed like kids in a candy store having the time of their life. The highlight of the set for me was their track “Skateboard” – a quick paced fun Ska tune that got the whole crowd moving. This is a band to keep your eye on as I expect big things from them going forward.
Next up, if you know anything about punk rock history, is a band I’m sure you’ve heard of. The Queers, formed in 1981, have been at the forefront of punk music almost since punk’s inception. First started up by Joe King (a.k.a. Joe Queer) in Portsmouth, New Hampshire and playing live shows around New England, Joe remains the only remaining original member. The band rose to fame in the 90’s when they signed on the seminal label Lookout! Records. After many lineup changes over the years, the band now tours with Joe alongside Alex Martin (a.k.a. Hoglog) on drums and Chris May on Bass. The band’s 45 minute set was a full force history of punk music. True to their in your face style, Joe started the set by announcing “We’re the greatest punk band in the world”. Most every tune was fully embraced by the crowd – especially the handful of punk rockers in the crowd who hung on every chord and guttural chorus. With hardly a break between songs, the band ripped their way through 13 songs in 45 minutes, including a cover of The Ramones’ classic “Sheena Is A Punk Rocker”. If there were an audio dictionary defining every genre and sub-genre out there, The Queers would surely be included alongside The Ramones, The Sex Pistols and Black Flag. If anyone in the crowd knew nothing about punk music before coming to The Beer Run Tour, which was all changed by the time The Queers left the stage.
The third set of the night came from Santa Cruz, CA based Reggae/Rock band The Expendables. Even though Reel Big Fish were the definite headliners of the night, a look around the crowd showed that many were there for these guys. Formed in 1997, The Expendables have developed a substantial following around the country and are known for a very diverse blend of music – incorporating bits of Reggae, Ska, Surf Rock, Punk and even a little Metal thrown in for good measure. Lead by the charismatic and expressive Geoff Weers (guitar and vocals) and backed by Adam Patterson (drums and vocals), Raul Bianchi (lead guitar) and Ryan DeMars (bass), the band treated the crowd at The Bourbon to everything fans have come to expect from an Expendables show. They had everyone bouncing, bobbing, dancing, moshing and I even saw someone crowd surf (albeit briefly) at one point. The Expendables are a very fun band who loves to interact with the crowd. Geoff led everyone in a sing off of one of their biggest hits, “Bowl For Two”. Pitting the left side versus the right, the losing side had to smoke out the other side. In the case of a tie, everyone had to smoke out the band. I’ll give you one guess who won. The highlight of the set for me here was “Ganja Smuggling” off their 2007 self-titled album. If you missed this show, be sure to catch The Expendables next time they come to town.
Closing out the night was Reel Big Fish. Hailing from Huntington Beach, CA and formed in 1991, the band definitely treated the crowd to exactly what they wanted. Like The Queers, the only original band member from the early days is Aaron Barrett. The band now tours with Johnny Christmas on Trumpet, Matt Appleton (A.k.a. Saxl Rose) on sax, Billy Kottage on trombone, Derek Gibbs on bass and Ed Larsen on Drums. Even with the numerous lineup changes (Wikipedia even has a chart to help you keep track) the band has kept true to their original purpose of having fun with what they do and injecting a healthy dose of humor into their live shows. With songs like “Beer”, “Everything Sucks” and “Everyone Else Is An Asshole”, there was no shortage of fun sing-along songs for the whole crowd to really get in to. The band is also a big fan of cover songs (small bit of trivia being that the band originally started out as a cover band and they also released an all Cover album called “Fame, Fortune and Fornication” in 2009) and there was no shortage of fun cover songs like Van Morrison’s “Brown Eyed Girl” and A-Ha’s “Take On Me”. After Barrett announced their biggest hit, they launched into their own version of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit”, “My Own Worst Enemy” by Lit, The Proclaimer’s big hit “I’m Gonna Be” and “The Impression That I Get” from fellow Ska band Mighty Mighty Bosstones. After this bit of fun, the crowd was rewarded with RBF’s biggest single “Sell Out” and the band was rewarded with a raucous sing along. I last saw RBF at The Ranch Bowl in 1996 and they don’t seem to have lost any energy or that edge that made them so fun. Long live Reel Big Fish and I’ll see you next time.
To view images from the show, click this link http://nightlifeco.com/omaha/gallery/the-beer-run-tour-w-reel-big-fish