Reel Big Fish

With Goldfinger, Zebrahead, and Homegrown. Tuesday, July 31, at Nautica Stage

Surveyed, with Twine and Phase4 Cleveland Center for Contemporary Art, 8501 Carnegie Avenue Friday, July 27, 10 p.m.-midnight

$5; free for CCCA members


No of-the-moment mid-'90s ska-punk outfit suffered more guilt than Reel Big Fish at cashing in on the of-the-moment mid-'90s ska-punk craze. Case in point: "Sell Out," the hit single that made these boys. With it, Reel Big Fish hung its "workin' for the man" shtick on song lyrics, interview sound bites, and T-shirts. It was a rarity: a trendy band that realized how ephemeral its time in the spotlight was. And how laser-accurate trendy the single had to be to catch the spotlight at all. This doesn't make RBF a bad band -- just a lucky one, and now a guilty one. Maybe now it can get comfortable. The market for giddy, boppy, self-deprecating ska-pop smarm is steadily plummeting, but the Fish will slip into Nautica and bang out tunes from an upcoming album that will probably be released on a label so obscure that the ultra-indie chick behind the counter at Record Exchange won't even have heard of it. That's fine with RBF, which is content to be selling at all anymore. As for Goldfinger: Well, these boys soldier on with much the same career arc. Behold a California pop outfit not ashamed to base every decent song on its own past hit single, "Here in Your Bedroom," and cap it off with a cover of "99 Red Balloons." Not a bad band, either, but ironically, Goldfinger's ska-revolution-that-never-happened sound is nearly more nostalgic and outdated than the tunes the band covers now to appear relevant.

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