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Wednesday, June 19, 2024
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"After rain delay, SA small concert is 'Reel Big' hit"

Just over 1,000 see Reel Big Fish, Michael King perform in LaSalle lot

Weather couldn't kill the night.

The Student Association small concert rocked the LaSalle parking lot Sunday night, but it didn't get underway until after a half-hour storm delay (lightning) sent a large part of the crowd home.

Once the show commenced, it proved to be a hit. Six-piece ska-punk group Reel Big Fish was a crowd-pleasing headliner, and they were only helped by their opener, UB student Michael King and his band.

Entertainment Coordinator Marc Rosenblitt said just over 1,000 people came back through security (SA had reserved 7,000 free tickets for UB students and 2,000 tickets for sale to the general public) and into the show after the delay. Those people watched as King and Reel Big Fish put on a rowdy show.

SA President Nick Johns came on stage between the two acts to thank students for their cooperation and to announce the official date for Fall Fest - Oct. 13. Johns added that the acts would be announced "ASAP," which may suggest that the highly in-demand A$AP Mob (featuring A$AP Rocky and A$AP Ferg) could be making its way to UB.

The mob of fans at Sunday's show formed "circle-pits," moshed, skanked, hula-hooped, whooped, cheered and danced in a massive loss of inhibition. When the show ended, fans emerged drenched from head to toe in a combination of rainwater and sweat.

For some, going to see Reel Big Fish was a healthy dose of therapy after a long first week of classes.

"I think this is a really good event because it brings everyone at UB together after the first week of school and it's a fun party thing," said senior human services major Rachel Cimerman. "I'm already stressed out after the first week of classes, man."

At one point, it seemed the odds were stacked against a successful show. The audience booed their way out of the parking lot after Rosenblitt announced the attendees had to evacuate the venue into the stadium parking lot for at least half an hour.

"The campus chooses to follow the NCAA regulations for sporting events with regards to lightning," said Steve Herberger, campus manager of fire and life safety. "That includes a protocol that says within five miles, a strike of lightning requires evacuation of any exterior event to a safe location. The evacuation went very well. This was one of the first times we've had to evacuate an outdoor event."

Reel Big Fish emerged onto the stage sporting ridiculous outfits with vibrant colors, outrageous hairstyles and blatantly absurd accessories and facial hair designs.

Reel Big Fish started getting noticed in 1992 and has since toured internationally with steady success, a few hit songs (such as 1996 hit "Sell Out") and interchanging band members along the way. Regardless of their age, Reel Big Fish manages to do something that most live bands dream of doing when they perform: They engage the crowd in a memorable way that is felt by everyone in attendance.

What Reel Big Fish still has going for them is how seriously they take the idea of themselves - which is very little. Instead of coming off as a band that got old and can't let go of the past, Reel Big Fish reminds audiences that life is sometimes best experienced in a drunken state of disregard.

Junior Spanish major Andrew McFadden got pumped up before the show with his roommates listening to ska music. Though he was unfamiliar with Reel Big Fish, he said he expected the show was going to be incredible.

Then came the storm. A friend convinced McFadden to return to the show.

"Honestly, I wasn't expecting to come back," McFadden said. "[Michael King] was fun. I liked the mash-up they did with the covers. We're still excited, against all odds."

King, a part-time UB student nearly finished with a degree in computer science, is a man of many titles. He works multiple jobs while juggling school with 25 hours of music each week, between rehearsals and gigs. Depending on the expenses of a show, his group can be as big as a nine members, but King played with his usual cast of five Sunday.

King's band is a collective of musicians with varying levels of experience and age, but they share their passion for music.

Derek "Velvet D" Hager is a senior aerospace engineering major at UB who plays tenor sax for the group. Dan Ross plays guitar and recently graduated from Canisius College in Buffalo.

The band features Rishon Odel on the bass guitar and David "T-Spoon" Hulett on drums. Odel and Hulett are both professional musicians from Buffalo who have toured all over with various groups of musicians for years.

King got his opportunity to play as the only opening act on Sunday night after winning last year's SA Battle of the Bands. The judges were so impressed with his performance that they kept him in mind for this show, and King delivered.

His stunning voice coupled with overall exceptional talent from every member of the band to re-excite the audience after the delay almost sent King and his crew packing. With an abundance of energy and solo sections for each of the instrumentalists, King's group hit the high notes and rocked straight through into their well-deserved encore.

Fall Fest - Oct. 13, as Johns stated - is the next SA concert.




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