Scott Huffines is at it again.
The twentysomething owner, manager and sole employee of Atomic Books on Read Street, where the motto is "literary finds for mutated minds," is throwing another bizarre theme party.
Back in March, Mr. Huffines celebrated a year of being in business with a "Kiss and Devo" party -- 11 local bands playing nothing but Kiss and Devo music.
Now, Mr. Huffines gives us the '80s New-Wave Explosion, tonight at Memory Lane. This time, he has persuaded 14 local bands to play nothing but early '80s and New Wave music, including such classics as "The Safety Dance" by Men Without Hats, "Turning Japanese" by the Vapors and "Relax" by Frankie Goes to Hollywood.
"Some of the bands that did the Kiss and Devo show wanted me to do another party," Mr. Huffines said. "I told them I would do another one on one condition -- I could do anything I wanted."
What Mr. Huffines wanted was a short trip back to the days when girls streaked their hair pink, purple and green; tucked their pants into their socks, and wore armfuls of jelly bracelets. They were accompanied by guys wearing makeup, parachute pants and skinny ties. And don't forget the ever-important wrap-around mirrored sunglasses.
"I graduated from high school in 1981. I was an MTV kid," Mr. Huffines said. "New Wave was the music I listened to back then. I still listen to it. . . . It's kind of a dirty little secret. People don't want to admit that they grew up on this stuff. It's an era that people pretend didn't happen."
But the '80s did happen. It was the decade that raised Generation X. While New Wave music is often put down as inferior, and sometimes silly (remember Kajagoogoo?), it helped change the way music was made. Instead of relying solely on guitar, drum and bass, New Wave music gave Xers an instrument to call their own: the synthesizer.
Mr. Huffines said it was easy for him to get bands to play the New Wave party. Once word got out the show would feature the sounds of the '80s, people were begging to be included.
Among the bands schooled in the '80s and performing tonight is Liquor Bike. For the band members, playing the party was a must. "The main reason is that Scott is a great guy and we all shop at Atomic Books," said David Koslowski, the group's lead singer. "We all grew up in the '80s listening to corny New Wave stuff."
The band plans to perform "Good Girls Don't" by the Knack and "Next to You" by the Police. In fact, Mr. Koslowski says, after practicing "Next to You" for the New Wave party, the band plans to release a 7-inch single of the song. The band's CD "Neon Hoop Ride" is also due out next month on Grass Records.
Other bands playing tonight include W.O.D., S.Q.U.I.D., Krudz, Wobblies, Driver, Burners Grove, Seade, Scapegoat, Soulpit, Broad, Pornflakes, Great Mutant Skywheel and Edith, along with MC Ding Dong Daddy.
Atomic's New-Wave Explosion
Where: Memory Lane, 1433 Hamburg St.
When: Tonight, 9 p.m.
Tickets: $5 at the door; ages 18 and over only
Call: (410) 728-5490