Saturday, Aug. 11, 2012
Tonight @ Wisconsin State Fair Main Stage, 7:30 p.m.
Nikola Tesla died in obscurity, but in recent decades the Serbian-born inventor who harnessed electricity has been honored in pop culture as the little man with big thoughts. An electric car has been named for him, David Bowie played him in a film and, as far back as 1984, a band with his name emerged from Sacramento, determined to take full advantage of the alternating current he developed to make loud, full-bodied rock. An alternative to '80s hair-metal bands, Tesla cared more for powerful riffs than makeup and studded leather pants. The 1989 album The Great Radio Controversy resulted in their first hit, the appropriately named power ballad “Love Song.” The high mark of their popularity was reached with their 1990 live album, Five Man Acoustical Jam, which included a great version of an otherwise forgotten social protest hit from the early '70s, “Signs” by the Five Man Electrical Band.