In my essay “What Happened to the Musical Acts That Defined the Art World in the Aughts?,” I outline a number of economic, cultural, and technological changes post-2000 that contributed to an aughts-era curatorial phenomenon: the art band.
Attempting a comprehensive who-was-who list of 2000s art bands would be a fool’s errand. There were scores of art-adjacent indie groups getting booked at museums and nonprofit galas, while countless artist-led bands were too proud (or too atonal) to perform for art audiences. And even with the connective power of MySpace, scenes remained semi-regional. You may consider a Bay Area group that I’ve never heard of to be particularly notable, and I can’t assume you’d know about this chaotic Arizona noise-punk band who smashed fax machines at live shows circa 2005. I think they called themselves Art Vandelay.
So instead, here’s a list of ten 2000s art bands that feel emblematic of that era when $400 asymmetrical haircuts with chunky Tom Ford frames could be seen at live shows alongside DIY asymmetrical haircuts with Rite Aid discount frames.