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Reel Big Fish 

Tuesday, August 9; the Pageant (6161 Delmar Boulevard)

Reel Big Fish fired a pre-emptive strike with its 1997 single, "Sell Out." The hero of this smart, cynical tune has his doubts about the music industry but reasons it must beat wearing silly hats at a fast-food joint. "Don't Start A Band," one of several brutally self-deprecating tracks from this year's We're Not Happy 'Til You're Not Happy, finds singer Aaron Barrett wondering if he made the right choice. Happy darkens ska's congenitally cheerful tone with distorted guitars and downward-slanting horn-section melodies -- although the group lightens the mood with an artificially sweetened Morrissey cover, a provocative gesture that will likely infuriate Moz fans. But Reel Big Fish's boldly contrarian decisions have earned it an unusually devoted fan base, which is why it still plays ska-punk on a major label -- and most of its former peers have either switched to a more marketable sound or returned to the drive-thru window.

Doors open at 5 p.m. Tickets are $18.50 to $20; call 314-726-6161 for more information.

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