Review by Pete Williams with Photos by Helen Williams

Tonight’s gig was a real treat for ska punk fans, featuring two of the genre’s biggest names as double headliners, with support from two more well established bands. Despite the early start time, Nottingham’s famous Rock City was packed to the rafters and the energy was palpable from the very beginning.

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Kicking things off were Suburban Legends from California. The band have an unusual history, mixing years of touring the ska punk scene with extended periods performing at Disneyland. As a result they have an unusual and eclectic back catalogue, ranging from self-penned traditional ska songs to poppy covers of Disney classics such as I Just Can’t Wait to be King.

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The one thing that connects all of their songs is fun. The band are clearing having a blast on stage, and their enthusiasm transfers to the crowd, who really got into the set – especially impressive for the first act of the night. At times their dance routines were overly choreographed, but with the huge smiles on their faces you can’t help but get carried along with it all.

Next up were Zebrahead, the five piece rockers, also from California. Their style is noticeably heavier than Suburban Legends, blending punk, pop, ska and a heavy dose of rap. Front man Ali did a great job of hyping up the crowd, and the band cranked out some of their best loved tunes, including Hello Tomorrow, Call Your Friends and Save Your Breath.

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The band had a strong following in the audience, with plenty of people singing and moshing along throughout the set. They finished with their traditional encore song, Anthem, which whipped the crowd up even further and leaving everybody ready for the two headline acts.

The first of the two to take the stage were Reel Big Fish. With just under three decades of songs to choose from, this was always going to be a set of crowd-pleasers and they didn’t disappoint. They opened with their brilliant cover of Take On Me and moved on to other classics such as Sell Out, Beer and You Can’t Have All of Me.

The band has seen numerous line up changes over the years, with front man Aaron being the only remaining original member, but this hasn’t dampened their energy at all and they certainly know how to put on a show. There was also a nice little crossover moment when Buddy from Less Than Jake joined their horn section to blast out a few notes.

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The final band of the night were the legendary Less Than Jake from Gainesville, Florida. They have such a strong focus on touring that it seems they’re never off the road, and this experience always adds up to an unforgettable show. Their entire set consisted of scream-along classics such as Suburban Myth, Johnny Quest Thinks We’re Sellouts and History of a Boring Town.

In between songs they bantered with the crowd in their relaxed, down-to-earth style. Throughout the night they expressed their love of England, and you can understand why they enjoy coming back here time and time again with such an eager group of fans attending every tour.

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They finished on a high with one of their most popular songs, All My Best Friends Are Metalheads, which left the crowd thoroughly pumped up. As always, it was a masterful and relentless set by one of the best bands on the scene and I can’t wait to see them on our shores again soon.

See the full photoset from tonight’s gig here.

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