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SATURDAY

I learned to dance watching Hoover. It just happened, in the back of Food for Thought, during a Christmas show in ’93: Hoover and Circus Lupus, me and my khaki pants and old-man shoes at the lip of the stage. My moves were all original: knee bends that worked up to butt-wiggling and torso-shimmying, my dear shaved head turning, metronomelike. Sometimes, I’d earnestly close my eyes to feel the music, especially when the band played “Dries.” The song built slowly, Fred Erskine’s bass going soft and noodly. Then up went the wailing notes of the guitars, and my knees broke like matchsticks. When I opened my eyes, I saw a band that looked nothing like the skinhead types that gooned up central Pennsylvania, spitting out old Minor Threat at the VFW. No, Hoover knew how to grow a beard. And the guys knew what to do with a bass and a drum kit. They also knew the soft-loud dynamic, how to record crickets and trumpets, and how to bleed Orson Welles’ War of the Worlds into a set. Hoover came at the tail end of Positive Force’s influence, a band perfectly in tune with its time and place, one you’d want to close out a church-basement benefit. And then, after a year and change and one perfectly dark album, The Lurid Traversal of Route 7, Hoover split up. This was a band just weird enough that it could be your life. Instead, the Pixies and Slint get all the press. For us aging D.C. basement-show graduates, this reunion gig is an opportunity to show the kids how the dance was (awkwardly) done. Hoover plays with the Medications and Citygoats at 9:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 22, on the Black Cat’s Mainstage, 1811 14th St. NW. $10. (202) 667-7960. (Jason Cherkis)