In August, as I was watching Billy Corgan meander through a feedback-soaked guitar workout toward the end of the Smashing Pumpkins' show, I thought, “Man, I'd rather be watching Public Radio.”
That's not a joke. I was thinking of the Charlotte rock band I'd seen the night before at Tremont. Public Radio's infectious songs and charisma (from its drummer's Tommy Lee-like stick spins to the arm-waving dance of its adorably pregnant keyboardist) left me wondering when some major label might discover them.
Lately, I've found live local bands outshining national touring acts more frequently. The Lights, Fluorescent – which plays Snug Harbor tonight and again Thursday at Tremont with Dear & the Headlights – is probably my favorite. Singer Erika Blatnik doesn't cower beneath her powerful voice, reminding me of the Pacific Northwest post riot-grrrl acts (Sleater-Kinney, Mirah) I so love.
The band's just as strong with well-crafted, complicated song structures that, like a good movie, make you think while entertaining you. It's nothing to see guitarist Andre Francois noodling away on an intricate passage while the others riff and chorus together in grand rock fashion, evoking an Arcade Fire/Rainer Maria marriage of emo, pop and post-hardcore.
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Along with Noises 10 (at Snug Saturday) and Angwish (at the Milestone tonight), some of the best up-and-comers are right here. It's time their potential was recognized on a national level.