The Aquabats at Marquee Theater on Dec. 13

Categories: Concert Review
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See more shots in our Aquabats slide show.

Ask what sets The Aquabats apart from other former ska outfits turned synth-punk and the answer is simple: enemies. After all, what would a crime-fighting band of costumed crusaders be without a few villains to lob their collective super powers at?

Saturday night's show at The Marquee proved this when to the horror (and delight) of the crowd, the dastardly White Buffalo appeared to stop the show!

Would our masked heroes be able to overcome such horrible odds? What songs would they employ to bring the rock and stop the evil? And what of the other bands?

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Dusty Rhodes and The River Band transcended their opening band status by killing their set of zaidico-flavored rock full of rhodes piano, mandolins and electric guitar. Front man Dusty Rhodes played his keyboards with the fluid animation of an over-caffeinated ninja between busting out his accordion or inspiring applause with dramatic hand gestures. Together, the six member band played incredibly tight; a quality that remained when they got the audience clapping along at the end of their set.

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Suburban Legends opened their set by playing a few moments of a TV ad for "Breakin' and Poppin'" a dance instruction book featuring The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air's Alfonso Ribeiro as a pint-sized dance instructor. To his credit, the former sitcom star as a few moves, but he's got nothing on Suburban Legends. Luis Beza on trumpet and Brian Robertson on trombone moon walked and powered down robot style along with front man Vincent Walker. SL didn't just play music, they put on a show.

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"Fashion Zombies" announced to The Marquee that yes, it was time for the mighty Aquabats to take the stage. What followed was a never-ending assault of fan favorites including "Super Rad," "Pool Party," "Pizza Day" and "Martian Girl From Planet V." For the most part, the bats stuck to the synth-based sound they've favored since they dropped their ska roots for 2005's Charge!, though Jimmy the Robot frequently took up a tenor sax to give the classic tunes a necessary horn element.

Saturday's show marked the end of the Aquabats' Hooray for the Holidays tour. Why end the tour in Arizona? "Because we saved the best for last," exclaimed M.C. Bat Commander. In holiday spirit, The Aquabats brought a gift in the form of "The Magic Chicken" which they claim to have not played for almost a decade. On stage a large chicken wearing a top hat and red cape appeared to throw chicken sandwiches and nuggets to the crowd of Aquacadets.

And what of the White Buffalo? Were the Aquabats able to best his evil goatee or the unstoppable force of his golden idol? No, they did could not. At least not until Jimmy the Robot found the "magical sword of Arizona" which he "pulled out of a sand dune using all my strength." Alas! The sword was not effective until an "energy transfer" from all the kids in the audience awakened its dormant powers allowing M.C. Bat Commander to slay the golden beast and continue the show.

"Magic beats gold. You can read about it in Dungeons and Dragons class."

Critic's Notebook:

Better Than: petting one kitty's head and then petting the other kitty's head.

Personal Bias: The high school ska freak inside of me came out for this show. Sorry to all the people I skank-kicked by accident.

Random Detail: Each band made reference to the Nickelodeon show Yo Gabba Gabba! including Suburban Legends getting the entire audience to shout "There's a party in my tummy. So yummy! So yummy!" during their set.

Furthering Listening: The Sandfleas

-- Jonathan McNamara




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