Engaging Ludo is ready to blow up

Every once in a while, a band comes along that you just want to see do well – and for me, one of those bands is nerdy Midwestern rock outfit Ludo.

The first time I heard “Drunken Lament” (which came out last winter as the second track on its major label debut “You're Awful, I Love You”), I was sure it'd been used in a college party scene on the TV show “Smallville.” I was wrong. But it was just so incredibly catchy, it was as if it was already spinning in my head.

I became convinced the group would blow up. And though it hasn't yet, I've heard its single “Love Me Dead” in a commercial for Fox's “House,” and during one of MTV's awards shows. It's like Ludo's getting a hint of the recognition it deserves.

It was easy to fall for the group's wacky charm. Frontman Andrew Volpe sprinkles his lyrics with funny incidents, odd storytelling and horror-movie references. When I saw Ludo in Charleston in May, he was a riot, striking mock rock-star poses and facial contortions, even managing to pull off Faith No More's “Epic,” a song almost too sacred to cover.

Ludo opens for Relient K tonight, and while its music is clearly accessible – with shades of pop, punk, emo and new wave – I would set it somewhere outside of today's interchangeable emo/pop-punk frenzy. Like Weezer or Violent Femmes, this is its own band.