Formed: Auburn, Ala., in 1992.
Sounds like: The Ventures on a steady diet of Space Ghost and Hawkwind.
For fans of: Surf rock, Link Wray, Dead Moon, Estrus Records, Mystery Science Theater 3000.
Why you care: Man or Astroman? launched from its pad in the Deep South and became one of the most successful and militantly independent surf-punk bands of the '90s. In its prolific early days, the group unleashed a series of instrumental albums loaded with twangy riffs and samples from every B-grade science-fiction movie imaginable. Even more stratospheric were the live shows—these events featured elaborate props and high-energy moves. From motorcycle helmets lit afire, movie projections on satellite dishes and giant computer mainframes that performed absolutely no function whatsoever, fans were always in for a treat. The Astromen took their gimmicks to great heights: Laundry lint was packaged and sold at the merch table as "space dust"; two additional bands of "Clone" Astromen were trained and sent on tour simultaneously, alarming clubs and bewildered fans. As the stage act grew, so did the band's creative drive—by the time the majors came calling (and were promptly hung up on), Man or Astroman? had found the edge of its musical universe. The group went out on a creative high note in 2001, and ultimately re-formed in 2006 for an appearance at the Touch & Go 25th-anniversary festival. Could this be the band's final mission?
SEE IT: Man or Astroman? plays Doug Fir on Wednesday, Feb. 23, with the Octopus Project. 9 pm. $15 advance, $16 day of show. 21+.