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Friday, January 10; Creepy Crawl

After touring aggressively for well over a decade, the members of MU330 are in a different place these days -- literally and metaphorically. Vocalist/guitarist Dan Potthast lives in California, for starters. More to the point, the insatiable hunger for ska among America's youth seems somewhat, well, sated. The band still does two or three short tours a year, but the attitude now seems to be that MU330 is a worthy avocation, not the all-consuming lifestyle of even a few years back.

Potthast, for example, is pursuing a solo career. His second record, the charming, confident Sweets and Meats, was recently released on Asian Records. He's been playing tunes from that release at gigs around town over the past few weeks, which seems appropriate given that St. Louis figures heavily in the lyrics. On Sweets, Potthast sounds like an earnest indie pop-rocker ("The Letter") and an Americana-tinged subway busker ("Tornado Joe"). What he doesn't sound like is a ska songwriter: There's nary a chicka-chicka guitar riff on the whole disc.

But ska is exactly what Potthast and company will be offering up this weekend, ska in big, bold doses. The tuneful rumble of Chris Diebold's bass, the martial crack of Ted Moll's drums, the joyful exuberance of horn players Gerry Lundquist and Rob Bell, Potthast's cheeky guitar heroics, an active pit -- all are essential to the MU330 experience. Some things never change.

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