Music » Livewire

Tesla

Wednesday, March 9, at the Odeon.

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In 1986, a Sacramento band named City Kidd mercifully altered its moniker after its manager suggested that it pay tribute to Nikola Tesla. The American inventor championed an alternating-current motor, while his direct-current-touting rival Thomas Edison electrocuted animals to demonstrate the alleged instability of Tesla's technology. (Edison's propagandistic displays cemented the connection between AC/DC and pyrotechnics.) Tesla the man pioneered radio technology, while Tesla the five-man acoustical band blazed the trail for unplugged albums.

Thrusting prongs into outlets and yanking them out at erratic intervals, Tesla "replugged" in 2001 for a live record, released 2004's noisy Into the Now, then cut the juice for its current tour. An earnest act that lacks fashionable flair, Tesla sold millions of records in the flamboyant late-'80s/early-'90s hair-metal era without resorting to embarrassing exploits. On VH1's list of the Hundred Most Metal Moments, an unseemly catalog of crapulence, Tesla checked in at No. 59 with the feel-good entry "septic truck driver becomes singer." (Frontman Jeff Keith later spun records at a strip club while the band was on hiatus, showing he still has a knack for rockin' occupations.) Musically, the group's gritty output holds up well; tracks from its debut disc Mechanical Resonance could gun down most modern-day hard-rock cowboys.

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