1976 in London.

Members: Colin Newman (guitar, vocals), Graham Lewis (bass, vocals), Robert Gotobed (drums) and Bruce Gilbert (guitar). Matt Simms (of It Hugs Back) replaces Gilbert for this tour.

Sounds like: A thinking man's punk band. Wire is snotty but sophisticated, like Johnny Rotten majoring in economics and philosophy. 

For fans of: Gang of Four, Buzzcocks, the Clash, Brian Eno, the Minutemen, early R.E.M.

Latest release: Red Barked Tree, a refreshingly nostalgia-free set of punk and experimental tunes that proves the band's third act isn't a joke or an attempt to capitalize on its legendary early material.

Why you care: For a three-year stretch in the late '70s, Wire was the best punk band in the world, burning the boundaries of the genre by eschewing verse/chorus structures and embracing straight-ahead pop, deconstructed skronk and icy keyboard and guitar arrangements that pointed toward synth pop and goth. After the bare-bones, minimalist chug of legendary debut Pink Flag—which spawned minor hits in "Strange" (later covered by R.E.M.) and "12XU" (covered by Minor Threat)—the band basically wrote the first chapter of the book on post-punk by adding lurching atmospherics and electronics on 1978's Chairs Missing and 1979's 154. The group's members disbanded in 1980, reformed in 1985 and gradually moved toward writing New Order-inspired dance music on 1990's Manscape. Wire split again in 1992 before finally crystallizing in 2000 and releasing the fantastic comeback EP, Read & Burn 01. Wire still treats punk as an amorphous, innovative medium, never settling on one set sound, and the band's penchant for risk-taking and sonic heaviness should be an example for the young Pitchfork bands who tend to find a niche and never branch out. 

SEE IT: Wire plays Dante's on Tuesday, April 12. 9 pm. $20 advance, $25 day of show. 21+.