Only about 17 people can claim to have seen Nunatak play live back before the whole world knew about ’em. Nunatak is an indie-rock band of scientists stationed in Antarctica who make up the continent’s sole representation in tomorrow’s star-studded Live Earth concert. Live Earth’s planners originally wanted to fly in a big-name act or two, but at this time of year it’s nearly a logistical impossibility, so the Antarctic Survey suggested Nunatak, and five very southern stars were born.

This five man analytical band (well, four men and one woman) are normally found kicking out their jams at Adelaide Island’s  Rothera Research Station, for their usual crowd of 17, the station’s entire remaining population.

As it turns out, these are probably five of the best informed protesters of climate change in Live Earth’s extensive lineup. Among the players are a polar guide, a meteorologist, and a marine biologist. Their repertoire includes Nirvana and Blur covers, plus originals that fiddler/communications engineer/tech guy Tristan Thorne says he plucks from the air.

Their 22-year-old singer, electronics engineer Matt Balmer, says the band is not a professional act, and they’re not trying to be. "Our aim is to do our bit for Live Earth. There is scientific evidence that the Antarctic Peninsula has warmed by almost three degrees in the last 50 years."

Speaking of logistics, they can’t broadcast so well from Antarctica, either, so you won’t be seeing Nunatak on the live broadcasts, but you can watch a segment of their historic set at

Fittingly, Nunatak’s name is Greenlandic for an exposed mountain summit or a peak in an ice field. It’s winter in Antarctica now, so the barometer will be somewhere around an ultracool -10 or -15 degrees Celsius on 7/7/07. The band will deck themselves out in fingerless gloves (kinda like fellow Live-Earther Madonna used to do) and will hope not to bust through any brittle drum heads. Winter or not, Nunatak will still do their best to melt your face off, while not melting any glaciers.

This article originally appeared in Plenty in July 2007.

Copyright Environ Press 2007