Covering the Bases: Mike Tomko hosts his third Under Cover Weekend

For the third year running, local concert promoter Mike Tomko has assembled a cadre of local bands and given them permission to become their idols. While last year's version of An Under Cover Weekend grouped the bands by decade, this year's proceedings are more of a free-for-all. As usual, there are a few can't-miss curveballs in the mix — along with some faithful love letters to these bands' forebears.

Friday, September 4

Science Hill 
In Reality: A modern-rock quartet that employs spacey, slightly psychedelic guitar lines alongside a muscular rhythm section.
Artist Covering: 311
Why This Will Work: Singer Jeff Nations can elongate his vowels just like 311's Nick Hexum, and Science Hill's laid-back grooves are heavily influenced by its Omaha-bred heroes.

Left Arm
In Reality: A soon-to-be defunct three-piece band that tempers the fury of punk with garage rock's ragged soul.
Artist Covering: The Ramones
Why This Will Work: Like Joey, Johnny, Dee Dee and Tommy, the boys in Left Arm write sweaty, spit-fire songs that can be counted off with a quick "1-2-3-4!"

The Sham
The Sham
Left-Arm
Left-Arm
The Monads
The Monads

Details

An Under Cover Weekend
8 p.m. Friday, September 4, and Saturday, September 5.
The Firebird, 2706 Olive Street.
$10. 314-535-0353.

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Via Dove 
In Reality: Big-sky guitar band that marries the haze of shoegaze with the conviction of a heart-on-sleeve troubadour.
Artist Covering: The Rolling Stones
Why This Will Work: Even in their dreamier moments, the boys in Via Dove have shown that they can drop the shroud and let the rock & roll pour forth. Whether or not singer Andy Shadburne can mimic Mick's pouty schoolmarm routine remains to be seen.

The Orbz 
In Reality: A rock group that injects a little new-wave energy and post-punk moodiness into its wry, observant tunes.
Artist Covering: The Pixies
Why This Will Work: Guitarist Ken Adelman can pull off the surf-rock solos of the Pixies' Joey Santiago. Plus, that "Gigantic" bass line sounds great no matter who's playing it.

Echo Bravo
In Reality: Break-neck thrash-rock that holds everything together by sheer centrifugal force.
Artist Covering: Nirvana
Why This Will Work: The band may sound more like early Mudhoney, but Echo Bravo can tame its collective primal scream enough to play Kurt Cobain's jagged, moody masterpieces.

Saturday, September 5 Fattback 
In Reality: A country/rock/blues hybrid that matches bizarro lyrics with unstoppable grooves.
Artist Covering: Talking Heads
Why This Will Work: Fattback's big-hearted embodiment of Huey Lewis & the News at last year's weekend proved that the band knows '80s rock, and these seasoned musicians can handle David Byrne's quirky style.

The Monads
In Reality: A bluegrass-punk quartet that wows audiences with both its speed and dexterity. At last year's Under Cover Weekend, the band ditched the acoustic instruments in favor of synths and electric guitars and pulled off a stellar tribute to Devo.
Artist Covering: Andrew W.K.
Why This Will Work: Based on the strength of last year's Devo set — and the raw, party-hearty anthems on its most recent album, Ornery — the Monads will channel America's favorite bloody-nosed jock-jam hero with unhinged aplomb.

John Henry & The Engine 
In Reality: A roots-rock sextet that takes the E Street bar-band ideal and grounds it with Midwestern twang.
Artist Covering: Creedence Clearwater Revival
Why This Will Work: Like CCR, the band delights in taking America's back roads and by-ways to uncover the pulse of bayou blues and country soul.

The Dive Poets 
In Reality: An alt-country band more interested in character studies and story-songs than flannel and PBR.
Artist Covering: John Mellencamp
Why This Will Work: The Coug gave a voice to middle America's working class while teaching them how to dance, and the Dive Poets share the rootsy, timeless quality of Mellencamp's best work.

The Sham 
In Reality: Twin-guitar indie rock that delights in fracturing song structures and gluing them back together with big power chords.
Artist Covering: Tears For Fears
Why This Will Work: I have no idea how or why this will work, but you have to hand it to the Sham for playing the wild card for this year's An Under Cover Weekend.

 
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