CONCERTS: Smash Mouth on Oct. 1, Wilderness of Manitoba on Aug. 31

Without the casino circuit, one-hit wonders would be an endangered species – and some people seem to feel this is a bad thing.

But consider Smash Mouth, coming to the River Cree Casino on Saturday, Oct. 1. Here was a fun little band that had a fun little song called Walkin’ in the Sun in 1997. Called the musical equivalent of lava lamps and crushed velvet and timed perfectly with a brief neo-lounge trend in full swing at the time, the song was HUGE hit. Thing is, it was a joke, a parody, a completely uncharacteristic song from what had been, up to then, a PUNK band. Never in a million years did these guys expect Walkin’ On the Sun to be their most popular song.

This peculiar phenomenon happens once in a while in popular music (it happened to Soul Asylum) and it often spells the commercial doom of an otherwise worthy band. They can do only one of two things, for example: 1. Stick to their guns and continue to be a punk rock band and not write another song like Walkin’ On the Sun, in which case no one who liked that song will ever buy another CD or go to another show. Or 2. Completely switch directions, abandon all previous creative goals and musical chemistry developed through years of labour, in which case the core fans are going to call the band a sell out and never buy another CD or go to another show.

Talk about being a rock in a hard place. Smash Mouth actually seemed to try it both ways – and still haven’t had anything on the charts for very long time. And they still have this albatross around their necks, this wonderful one hit wonder that they must play at every show because they’d get keelhauled if they didn’t.

This is just one way a “one-hit wonder” comes to be. There is no shame. There is no need to smirk or be negative about it. Let us celebrate instead the powerful rush of nostalgia we expect from a talented band whose fluke hit represented a point in time when crushed velvet and lava lamps were suddenly cool again, for a week or so there, anyway.

Tickets to Smash Mouth are $40 and go on sale Monday, Aug. 22 at 10 a.m. at the River Cree – online here.

In other news, do we have a one-hit wonder in the making with The Wilderness of Manitoba? (left) It’s too soon to tell for this “chamber folk band” (that’s a new one) that’s actually from Toronto. These guys come with a big buzz, top chart positions on CBC 3 and a brand-new full-length album to play at the Artery on Aug. 31. Tell your friends, get the word out. Advance tickets are $12 (including service charges) and on sale here.