Pylon

Photo: Jason Thrasher

Mercury Lounge; Wed 7
Music Hall of Williamsburg; Nov 8

How ahead of its time was Pylon? Not only does its 1980 debut, Gyrate (just reissued as Gyrate Plus by DFA), sound as sharp today as it did then, but the quartet, which had broken up in 1983, anticipated the current reunion craze by getting back together in the late ’80s. Never mind that Pylon split up yet again, its members giving statements such as “It would be absurd to come back a third time after all the negativity with the last breakup,” because the original roster is hitting the road once more.

Second rhetorical question: Why should you care about Pylon’s return? When it started, the Athens, Georgia, band was often compared to Gang of Four, and seeing the group on its first reunion tour 17 years ago confirmed the similarities—dance-friendly beats paired with jagged guitar etchings—but it also illustrated some essential differences. Vanessa Hay, for one, is an impassioned vocalist prone to primal shrieks and roars, not dry post-Marxist chants. More important, Pylon’s rhythm section is much better than GoF’s. Really. This may sound like sacrilege, but onstage, the viscerally thrilling combination of Curtis Crowe’s metronomic beat-keeping and Michael Lachowski’s bulldozer bass groove is the very definition of tensile strength. Even better, live footage of the band attests that it sounds exactly the same in 1983, 1990 and 2007. Remarkably, Pylon’s mix of rubbery flexibility and granitelike hardness has proved as enduring as it is improbable.

——Elisabeth Vincentelli