Noise Pop 2012: Bleached at the Rickshaw Stop 2/24/12

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a person in possession of a band must be in want of great hair. Last Friday night at the Rickshaw Stop, which featured four sets of fuzzy guitars, was no exception.

Unfortunately I missed Lilac’s set, but I did catch the band’s frontman, Will Ivy, who recently moved down to Los Angeles after six years in the Bay Area. But don’t weep: Half the band is still in San Francisco, so hopefully that means they’ll keep playing shows up here every once in a while. He also cut his signature hair since I last saw him, but it still looks, as always, leoninely excellent.

Though I caught only the tail end of Brilliant Colors’ set, that was enough to hear lead vocalist and guitarist Jess Scott, backed by Diane Anastasio on drums and Michelle Hill on bass, sing purposefully off-key and see her stick-straight bowl cut swirl around her head with every tilt of her neck. Combined with her loose, buttoned-to-the-hilt oxford shirt, she represented a perfect storm of androgyny, with vocals so airy you could hardly determine their gender. Their sophomore LP, Again and Again, was released on Slumberland last summer, and their set probably relied heavily on that record. A flawless marriage of noise and pop, Brilliant Colors could have been the poster child for this music festival.

Next up was Bleached, which consists of sisters Jennifer and Jessica Clavin, formerly of all-girl punk band Mika Miko. One thing was immediately clear: frontwoman Jennifer carries herself like she gets what she wants in life. It’s probably because she has worked really hard for it, since Bleached sounded really good.

They too have shaggy hair that swings across their faces when they perform, and uptempo numbers like “Searching Through the Past” and “Think of You” caused an enthusiastic mosh pit to ebb and flow in bodily approval into the edges of the more rigid but equally adoring crowd. When Jennifer announced, three songs before the last, “The next one is actually a Ramones cover,” someone in the audience audibly laughed. Not because, I don’t think, that they don’t like the Ramones, but because the influence of the band is so obvious on Bleached that a cover was almost redundant. And then they launched into a lovely rendition of “Today Your Love, Tomorrow the World.”

Last but certainly not least, the UK’s Veronica Falls was a smorgasbord of prints on stage, from Roxanne Clifford’s red blouse with black polka dots to James Hoare’s sea-hued paisley shirt. Drinking Hamm’s, dressed cool as rockers, and looking bored, they would fit in perfectly at The Knockout on any given night. Although drummer Patrick Doyle continually tried to counteract the band’s blasé attitude with his accented charm, one look at bassist Marion Herbain’s face and all was lost. Maybe their ostensible indifference was just the British way?

Sonically, however, they were on. They might be best known for their first single, “Found Love in a Graveyard,” but this band is no one-hit wonder. While most songs they played were off of last year’s eponymous debut, the sixth song of the set, “My Heart Beats,” was introduced as brand-new. And despite their dreamier, harmonized slow jams, they can still rock out, like on “Come on Over,” in which the words “Crimson and clover, I’ll touch your shoulder” are intoned like a prayer. They’re not superb musicians, at least as far as we could see, because nothing they write is all that difficult to play, but they put on a superbly enjoyable show nonetheless.

And, while most Noise Pop shows are run with efficiency not often seen, even at venues that run notoriously late, precluding much asked-for encores, the London quartet did give us one: a cover of Roky Erikson’s “Starry Eyes,” which they recorded in 2010. True to form, Hoare’s hair cascaded in curls around his head like an Out of Our Heads-era Mick Jagger. And then they bid us adieu.

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