Live preview: Our Band Could Be Your Life

Arty young acts cover their '80s underground forebears.

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Dan Deacon

Dan Deacon Photograph: Josh Sisk

When Michael Azerrad's landmark indie-rock tome, Our Band Could Be Your Life, was published in 2001, it seemed an act of instant nostalgia—not only for the decade covered in the book (1981--91), but also for the one that had just passed. It was during the sinister Reagan age that Azerrad's wild-eyed subjects blazed through the underground, and in the Clinton years that their muse floated into the mainstream while feeding expanding experimental circles. But by 2001, the reach of many of his chosen artists seemed to be fading; Mudhoney and Dinosaur Jr. were hardly millennial bands du jour.

A decade on, these artists cast a shadow over indie rock once more—only now, iPodized, their mark is scrambled and indirect. Tonight's ten-year birthday party for Our Band traces the subjects' legacies, featuring young acts trying on the old songs. While some pairings are notable for their incongruity—say, doe-eyed St. Vincent covering the malevolent Big Black—many are aptly matched. Baltimore electronic artist Dan Deacon tackles Butthole Surfers, who shared his taste for carnivalesque stage spectacle; spazzy Jersey instrumental combo Delicate Steve handles jerky forebears the Minutemen; art-junk duo Buke and Gass covers Fugazi; while blue-collar punk Ted Leo honors Minor Threat. Mostly, the contemporar y bands are artier and softer than their predecessors, who were born into a grittier rock world removed from computers and tiny white headphones. Yet as in 1981, 1991 or 2001, many bands, of course, still could be your life.

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