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The Biggest Fish is Still Out There

Remember back in the mid-90's, it’s OK – we’ll wait. Right – it’s all coming back to you now. T hat’s when a bunch of underutilized classic styles of music were resurrected and went mainstream. Green Day put punkish tunes back on MTV, goth came to a mall near you via Hot Topic, and even swing enjoyed a brief resurgence before it was flung manically back to the ´40s. And let's not forget ska, of course. Like the others, it had come and gone before, and had since been laying low just waiting for the ´80s metal hair to dry up forever so that a new crop of bands could reinvent ska and introduce it to a new generation.

Among the top of that crop was Reel Big Fish. They were part of what came to be called “the third wave of ska,” the first having come in a smoky waft from Jamaica in the ´60s, and the second from England in the late ´70s/early ´80s -- embodied by political groups like the Specials. That classic stuff had long had a cult following here in the US, and Reel Big Fish and their contemporaries put their distinctly Americanized take on the subject by adding cranked up guitars and shout-along choruses to the horn sections, while amplifying the catchy, up-tempo beats that had been the genre's signature sound. It was the right crossover at the right place and time, and the Fish soon found success with humorously self-deprecating hits like “Sell Out.” And since the group just put out its tenth album, Monkeys for Nothin' and the Chimps for Free, it’s safe to say that these grande pescados have stood the test of time.

Reel Big Fish perform with Less Than Jake, Streetlight Manifesto, and Against All Authority on Monday at Revolution (200 W. Broward Blvd. Ft. Lauderdale). The show starts at 6:30 p.m. and tickets cost $22.50. Call 954-727-0950, or visit

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John Letsch

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