Simply put... live music is better than recorded music in most cases. There are a few examples where that isn't the case. Reel Big Fish (RBF), a ska band that's been around since the 1990s, isn't one of them.
If you're not sure what ska is, you're not alone. For me it boils down to mixing swing with punk — a horn section, rock guitars, and an attitude. There are many definitions of ska, but they all seem to start in Jamaica and the UK in the 1960s and end when both RBF and No Doubt appeared in or near the mainstream in the 1990s. Personally, I don't buy that ska is dead.
Live! In Concert! was recorded at The Grove in Anaheim, California, at the start of RBF's "Fame, Fortune and Fornication Tour" on January 4, 2009. Twenty-five hundred insane fans packed into the venue to watch these guys play and I have to say I was impressed.
If you're looking for extras on the DVD, don't bother. But I think 20 of the band's hits and covers that found their way onto the set list is enough. It's quite obvious that these guys know how to have a good time on stage. And I doubt anybody in the audience sat down once the band got going.
RBF consists of Aaron Barrett on lead vocals and guitar; Ryland Steen on drums; Scott Klopfenstein on trumpet, guitar, and vocal harmonies; Dan Regan on trombone and backing vocals; Derek Gibbs on bass and backing vocals; and John Christianson on trumpet and backing vocals. And all of these guys can wail. Yes, they play loud and have a great time doing it, but every one of these guys has serious musical chops. The audio is about as good as you'll hear from a live performance on CD or DVD — crisp and clean sound throughout the concert.
My only problem with the whole DVD was some of the camera work. It appeared they had a few Steadicams recording footage throughout the night and those were fine. But it was the two or maybe three handheld cameras that drove me nuts. There was a period a couple of years back with films like Cloverfield and The Bourne Supremacy where the "shaky cam" shots were overused to get the viewer more into the action. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. But for a concert? At more than one point I had to look away from my TV while watching the video simply because I was getting nauseous.
Beyond that quibble, the picture was crisp, the color was bright and lively, and overall I think this is one of the best live concerts I've seen on DVD in quite a while... so long as you look away every now and then when the shaky cam is on.