Since The Aquabats burst onto the scene almost 30 years ago, they have always been a guaranteed awesome time. With the success of their TV show, “The Aquabats Super Show,” and appearances on “Yo Gabba Gabba!” their popularity among kids has only increased and their live shows have increasingly become family affairs.
They are the perfect band to introduce young kids to live music and the appreciation of seeing a good show in person. Who can resist crime-fighting superheroes that also play in a band? It’s kind of like Batman and Robin meet The Monkees. The House of Blues in Anaheim was the site of this hometown show, and the theme of the night was “Lovers of Loving Love! Valentine’s Spectacular!”
Getting the show started was the Orange County-based band called Shock Therapy.
They had a new wave, synth/surf punk sound reminding me of Devo meets The B-52s by way of Kraftwerk. In the spirit of The Aquabats, they had a guy onstage dressed in a lobster costume, looking a little like Zoidberg, for songs off their release, “Attack of the Giant Lobster Man.”
They ended their set with crowd favorites “New Wave Dance Party” and “Clam Boy.”
Up next was the Orange County ska band, Half Past Two. They started their set with a cover of the They Might Be Giants song “Boss of Me,” which most of us know as the theme song to “Malcolm in the Middle.”
With a full horn section, they have that classic Third Wave Ska sound reminiscent of Reel Big Fish, Less Than Jake, or The Hippos, and they really got the show going and everyone skanking.
The Aquabats have always been a multimedia band, often showing funny fake commercials and other videos at their shows. In that tradition, as the stage was filling with smoke, a video was played on the large screen, showing the Bats in various scenes from their TV show, “The Aquabats Super Show.”
When it was time for the show, MC Bat Commander stepped to the front of the stage and made the Bats’ secret hand sign, which was returned by all the cadets in the audience. Since the theme tonight was “Lovers of Loving Love,” it was only fitting that this was the first song played tonight.
Chances are that if you were to ask someone to describe The Aquabats in one word, that word would inevitably be rad; fittingly, for the second song they played the fan favorite “Super Rad!” For the song “Shark Fighter,” large inflatable sharks were tossed into the crowd… and it wouldn’t be the last time that evening that inflatable things were thrown into the audience.
The MC Bat Commander anointed the crowd with water from his bottle as we all sang along to another favorite, “Red Sweater,” with a “Bop shoo bop, bop shoo bop.” Joining singer MC Bat Commander are bassist Crash McLarson, keyboards and sax Jimmy the Robot, drummer Ricky Fitness, guitarist Eaglebones Falconhawk, and tonight saw the return of founding member Cat Boy on trumpet. As always, The Aquabats received assistance onstage from the Professor.
At one point, drummer Ricky Fitness came out from behind his drum set for his moment in the spotlight to sing a little of Foreigner’s “Waiting for a Girl Like You.”
Of course, it wouldn’t be a Bats show without the song “Martian Girl” and the obligatory battle between good and evil. MC Bat Commander enlisted help from the Forces of Nature in the form of a bear to fight and kick evil’s butt.
All of the songs during the show had something in common: they were about love. Whether it be love lost or just plain loving something like pizza as the song “Pizza Day” is about.
Once again, a large inflatable appeared, this time it was pizza slices for the crowd to toss around. Two children were chosen to come up onstage and, with their parents’ permission, they were both thrown onto two of the pizza slices and crowd surfed above the heads of the fans in the audience, and then returned safely to the stage.
The Bat Commander announced, “What does this song have to do with love? I’ll tell ya, we love fashion!” and with that, they played the new wave-inspired “Fashion Zombies!” which had everyone, including me, singing along to the “Woo ohh, woo ohh” part.
The Aquabats said goodnight, but after a few minutes of the crowd chanting “Aquabats! Aquabats!” they all returned saying, “We heard you calling for us. We were just about to get on the helicopter, but we came back,” to a lot of cheers and applause.
Describing their very special guest as a great friend, an amazing musician, singer, actor, dancer, and athlete, saying he helped write the theme song to “The Aquabats Super Show,” they welcomed Warren Fitzgerald of The Vandals to help sing his signature song, “I Have a Date.” Fitzgerald received an enthusiastic response from the crowd as he demonstrated his prowess and acrobatics onstage.
They finished with the banger “Pool Party,” bringing a bunch of kids (or junior cadets) onstage. They were joined by all of the characters from the night; Big Bird, Yeti, the bear, and even Brobee from “Yo Gabba Gabba!”
After more beach balls were thrown into the crowd, Fitzgerald and Falconhawk duked it out as they each tried to out-guitar solo the other. In the process, they each showed their amazing chops with antics, such as playing their guitars behind their heads. This all made for an epic ending to an amazing night. The Aquabats, always an awesome time, and always rad!