On The List :: Free Energy and Foreign Born @ Rickshaw [2.24.10]

Noise Pop opened its stint at the Rickshaw with four bands Wednesday night. Oddly enough, co-headliner Free Energy slotted second, unleashed their brand of throw-back, Thin Lizzy-inspired rock. Tour standards "Dream City" and recently leaked, "Hope Child" kept the night lodged on some boombox, street corner in 1976. Of course, upcoming single, "Bang Pop," was righteously fun and unwaveringly catchy. If there is an American rock band to see this spring, it is this one. To boot, it wasn't hard to convince the crowd to embrace a thrown-back pathos; these people are mostly living in their own decades as it is.

I bumped into a plaid shirted, red-haired, rat-tailed hipster gyrating while The Fresh and Oldies let loose on their sweaty dancing fans. Their song “500 snakes” (“we all hatched out of one egg!”) contained a thumping beat and a strong drum backing that resembled a White Stripes and Ramones sound with catchy lyrics. I just wanted to move. So did said rat-tailed gyrator.

As the headliner, Los Angeles’ Foreign Born took the stage amid a crowd in transition. Their hour-long set included a few twists and turns that I appreciated -- moving from the delightfully poppy garage band rock of “Winter Games” and the hypnotically harmonious “Don’t Take Back Your Time" to moments of an almost South African mbaqanga guitar rhythm in their new track “Early Warnings.” (And then there was bassist Ariel Rechtshaid’s mind-boggling decision to pull up his down jacket’s hood just as the lead singer was taking off his jacket. Hot indeed!)

Working in tandem with lead Matt W. Popieluchriffs, Lewis Pesacov diligently supplied Foreign Born with a diverse and enticing mixture of guitar riffs blending bluegrass and rock into a catchy, melodic sound. Popieluchriffs’s voice demonstrated impressive range, hitting the alt rock whine in both the high and low registers. Their sound is living room taken to the concert hall with a facility for changing tempo throughout the set that underscored their five years together as a band. “Vacationing People” combined sounds of Arcade Fire and Talking Heads with a more relaxed and harmonious ethic displayed through a slow guitar interlude which eventually -- when they were good and ready -- returned us to the rapid snare rolls of the introduction. And what was that song that began with that thumping base line? I’ll take two of those, thank you.

The girl I took said “the lead guitarist is hot.” Shocking, I know.

Listen :: Foreign Born - "Early Warnings"
Listen :: Free Energy - "Free Energy"

-- Dave Bryson, filling in for West Coast correspondent Noah Davis who was wildly derelict in his duties.

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