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Reunited 1990s alt-rockers Luna resume New Year’s concert tradition

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Luna is playing a Bay Area New Year’s Eve show at Starline Social Club in Oakland.(Courtesy Stefano Giovannini)

In 1998, Dean Wareham’s alt-rock outfit Luna started a tradition of playing New Year’s Eve concerts, which ended with the band’s splintering in 2005. He and his wife Britta Phillips carried on as the duo as Dean and Britta, and he also published an autobiography, “Black Postcards.” Last year, he released his first eponymous solo album. But in 2015, Luna regrouped for a tour of Spain, then the U.S. — so Wareham is rekindling the ritual for a New Year’s Eve show in Oakland. It’s convenient, says the former New Yorker, because he and his wife, and drummer Lee Wall, live in Los Angeles.

So how did you become film director Noah Baumbach’s go-to guy, for both music and acting?

Well, he’s got a couple for music. And it’s true that I’ve had some connection to every film he’s done since “Mr. Jealousy,” his second one after “Kicking and Screaming.” And with Britta, I’ve done full scores for a couple of his films, like “Mistress America” and “The Squid and the Whale.” And he’s given me little acting roles, too. We met when he was doing “Mr. Jealousy,” back in ’95, I think.

His “While We’re Young” was a brilliant skewering of self-centered millennials.

I love that film. The script was just great, a really clever examination of the differences between the younger and older generations, like how the older couple are using their Apple TV and all the latest technology, while the young couple are watching nothing but vintage VHS. One area where Noah and I differ is, he thinks Lionel Richie’s “All Night Long” is a good song, and I don’t. But Noah’s good at using songs to subtly poke fun at them, too.

How did you land the hilarious role of that movie’s shaman?

Noah called me a week before. So I played the shaman. I’ve never taken ayahuasca, like my character does, but I talked to some people who have. But then once I put on the robe and held the little tambourine, it gave me some authority, and all the actors sitting around really looked at me like I knew what I was talking about.

Why did Luna reconvene this year?

Well, it had been 10 years away. And there’s also a box set of vinyl coming our way – the first five Luna albums on vinyl, plus one LP of just bonus tracks. And since we were a band in the ‘90s on a major label, they didn’t do vinyl, but sometimes we’d get vinyl in a foreign territory. So the Luna vinyl that’s out there on eBay right now is very expensive.


Where: Starline Social Club, 645 W. Grand Ave., Oakland
When: 9 p.m. Dec.31
Tickets: $55 to $65
Contact: (510) 593-2109, www.starlinesocialclub.com

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