A Silent Film 1 - photo by Roman Gokhman

This year I’m trying to keep a thorough list of all the shows I see, so that at the end I can have an accurate list of my favorites. This put the Wednesday performance of British pop band A Silent Film, Louisiana’s Royal Teeth and New York singer-songwriter Jillette Johnson at Slim’s in an interesting position for this writer. Each act was very talented. Johnson, who was not even mentioned on the bill, was the most surprising, with her rich voice and talent on the ivories. All three have a lot of potential for mainstream success. A Silent Film comes in the mold of Snow Patrol or Coldplay; I foresee success the likes of Grouplove or Walk the Moon for Royal Teeth – and I’m a fan of both – and Johnson is a fledgling Tori Amos.

But Royal Teeth put on the best show, and A Silent Film couldn’t quite match it. I prefer for the headliner to carry the show if it makes my top 10 list.

A Silent Film 2 - photo by Roman Gokhman

A Silent Film have opened for the likes of One Republic, Civil Twilight and The Temper Trap in recent years. Singer Robert Stevenson – who performed parts of nearly every song on a keyboard but couldn’t sit still long enough to get through one tune at the instrument – was energetic and engaging.

At the same time, he appeared homesick. “We’re bloody miles away from home,” he said at the beginning of the set. Later on, “Thousand Mile Race” was introduced as “a song about being very far away from home.” The band had been trekking toward the Pacific Ocean from the eastern states, and Stevenson noted the sunny and mild San Francisco weather. “We have driven through snow, through tornadoes to get here. That is horrible weather for British people,” he said.

A Silent Film, which includes guitarist Karl Bareham, drummer Spencer Walker and bassist Ali Hussain, was strongest when they broke from the self-effacing British band mold and into power pop mode, on songs such as “Danny, Dakota and the Wishing Well,” and “Anastasia.” To that end, the thumping, sometimes disco-y bass lines make Hussain this band’s most valuable player. An encore surprise, though unexplained and not necessarily fitting in to the rest of the performance, was a cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “Streets of Philadelphia.”

Royal Teeth 1 - photo by Roman Gokhman

Watching Royal Teeth, a six-piece from various cities in Louisiana, it was difficult not to picture the characters in the Breakfast Club performing on stage. The band encompasses several personalities that blend together wonderfully. In that way, this band is very similar to Grouplove, and I mean that as an absolute compliment.

Band co-leaders Gary Larsen and Nora Patterson sometimes sing together, sometimes split versus and choruses, complimenting each other. Patterson, clad in spandex and looking the part of Kylie Minogue, handily held down the fort on a cover of Swedish electronic act The Knife’s “Heartbeats.”

Royal Teeth 2 - photo by Roman Gokhman

If one negative thing can be said about Royal Teeth, it’s that the “singer banging on a drum at the front of the stage” bit is starting to get a bit old. While the highlight of their performance came when Larsen climbed into the crowd with a tom drum to hammer away on the band’s biggest song to date, “Wild,” it was a distraction on other songs, with Larsen, Patterson and multi-instrumentalist Andrew Poe banging away on separate drums – in addition to drummer Josh Heffner.

Johnson, who performed with only her voice and a keyboard, made the early arrivers stop talking and silently watch her every move. With a deep voice both smoky and rough, she made it easy to forget she was alone on stage.

She seamlessly transitioned between songs such as “Cameron,” about a scorned transgendered teen, and getting drunk on Tuesday nights. All of her lyrics seemed important, with few words wasted.

Follow writer Roman Gokhman at Twitter.com/RomiTheWriter and RomiTheWriter.Tumblr.com