• St. Vincent's Annie Clark recreates the pummeling sounds of Big Black, backed by the Dirty Projectors rhythm section.
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    St. Vincent's Annie Clark recreates the pummeling sounds of Big Black, backed by the Dirty Projectors rhythm section.
    Wills Glasspiegel for NPR
  • Co-host Eugene Mirman warms up the crowd.
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    Co-host Eugene Mirman warms up the crowd.
    Wills Glasspiegel for NPR
  • Delicate Steve play the Minutemen, with the help of Sonic Youth's Lee Ranaldo.
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    Delicate Steve play the Minutemen, with the help of Sonic Youth's Lee Ranaldo.
    Wills Glasspiegel for NPR
  • Songs by Black Flag incite the first of the night's many mosh pit moments.
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    Songs by Black Flag incite the first of the night's many mosh pit moments.
    Wills Glasspiegel for NPR
  • Singing to a homemade backing track, Ted Leo does his best impression of Minor Threat frontman Ian MacKaye.
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    Singing to a homemade backing track, Ted Leo does his best impression of Minor Threat frontman Ian MacKaye.
    Wills Glasspiegel for NPR
  • The Hold Steady's Craig Finn, decked out as a party-busting Minnesota cop, joins Titus Andronicus to honor The Replacements.
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    The Hold Steady's Craig Finn, decked out as a party-busting Minnesota cop, joins Titus Andronicus to honor The Replacements.
    Wills Glasspiegel for NPR
  • Merril Garbus of tUnE-yArDs belts out a song from Sonic Youth's debut album.
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    Merril Garbus of tUnE-yArDs belts out a song from Sonic Youth's debut album.
    Wills Glasspiegel for NPR
  • Dan Deacon begins his tribute to the insane energy of Butthole Surfers shows by cutting the stage lights.
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    Dan Deacon begins his tribute to the insane energy of Butthole Surfers shows by cutting the stage lights.
    Wills Glasspiegel for NPR
  • Wye Oak's Jenn Wasner tumbles into the crowd during the closing all-star Nirvana jam.
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    Wye Oak's Jenn Wasner tumbles into the crowd during the closing all-star Nirvana jam.
    Wills Glasspiegel for NPR
  • Fans show author Michael Azerrad their appreciation in the only appropriate way.
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    Fans show author Michael Azerrad their appreciation in the only appropriate way.
    Wills Glasspiegel for NPR

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Live in Concert

Our Concert Could Be Your Life: Indie's New Guard Pays Tribute To '80s Icons

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In the decade since its publication, Michael Azerrad's book Our Band Could Be Your Life has taken on a sort of biblical quality among fans of independent music. So it's no surprise that this concert — 14 current bands performing the songs of 13 icons of indie rock at the Bowery Ballroom in Manhattan — occasionally felt like church. The lesson of the book — if nobody else is doing it, do it yourself — was repeated many times, and more than one musician credited Azerrad with clarifying the lessons of the earlier age at a moment when they seemed lost.

The audience bought into the story. At any given point you might have been standing between a fan of those icons Azerrad covered in the book and someone who came simply because they loved one of the bands on stage. (Given the number of musicians in the building, chances were good that one of them was just feet away in the crowd.) In the last decade, indie has entered the mainstream. Our Concert Could Be Your Life was a celebration of its fierce, humble roots.

Credits

The concert recording was engineered by Josh Rogosin. Photographs are by Wills Glasspiegel.

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