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Van Der Graaf Generator never achieved the level of fame of Genesis, its label mate, nor the level of influence of King Crimson’s Robert Fripp, who produced the prog classic Pawn Hearts, but the British outfit was one of the fiercest and most fiercely original groups of the progressive rock era. The classic lineup, which featured vocalist Peter Hammill, saxophonist David Jackson, keyboardist Hugh Banton, and drummer Guy Evans, made hard-edged art rock that picked up where David Bowie’s most melodramatic music left off, and it did so without the prolix solos so popular at the time. This approach earned the respect of punk architect Johnny Rotten, who programmed one of Hammill’s Generator-backed tracks on a 1977 radio show. On 2005’s Present, one of the reunited band’s recent efforts, Van Der Graaf Generator sounds every bit as lean, mean, and structurally ambitious as it ever did.
VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR PERFORMS AT 8 P.M. AT THE STATE THEATRE, 220 N. WASHINGTON ST., FALLS CHURCH. $30–$35. (703) 237-0300.