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Sunday, Aug. 28, 2011

Steely Dan

Tonight @ Riverside Theater, 7 p.m.

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Steely Dan was always more subversive than it seemed on the surface. Although in the '70s the group's jazzy soft-rock seemed like a safe alternative to the brasher rock of the day, Steely Dan (a band named after an adult novelty toy) detailed a drug-addled underworld as seedy as anything glam rockers sang about. After a decade's hiatus, co-leads Donald Fagen and Walter Becker reformed Steely Dan in the '90s as a popular touring act—ironic, since the group had famously stopped touring altogether in the '70s. Since reuniting, their recording schedule has been as laid-back as their music. They've only released two discs, but both are winners: 2000's Two Against Nature won an improbable Grammy for Album of the Year, while 2003's Everything Must Go is probably their loosest, most-carefree album since, well, ever. They play a greatest-hits show tonight.