Whole Lotta Love

Metric got depressed, but everyone else dug the Showcase

When XOXOXO started 15 minutes late at Ziggy's, it still didn't quite seem like the show was happening, because the sound guy really needed to turn up the volume. As Ben and Zack Funke rocked out on their synthesizers, singer Rachel Taylor jumped around in the strobe lights. Her vocals were barely audible, and the large audience was standing a good 10 feet away from the band. Watching the performance felt like watching TV.

After 7:30, Atllas was still onstage at the Library, rapping to an incredible bluesy funk backdrop of live drums, bass and guitar. At least 80 onlookers filled the small room, drinking beers and watching the dapper MC move through a swirl of smoke, colored lights and disco-ball sparkle. Atllas even worked up the crowd for a hearty call-and-response.

Upstairs at the Owl's Nest, the Dames started performing a little after 8. The trio was dressed in orange prison-style jumpsuits that they made into minidresses, and they sounded like a sassy, female version of the Misfits, "whoa-ohs" and all. By the end of the first song, there were so many hipsters in the crowd that you could hardly see the band; it was just occasional glimpses of orange fabric or guitarist Heather Shope's platinum locks.

She knows what's punk rock: Metric's Emily Haines.
She knows what's punk rock: Metric's Emily Haines.
Smells like teen spirit: Opiate for the Masses' Ron 
Underwood gets an arm up on the competition.
Smells like teen spirit: Opiate for the Masses' Ron Underwood gets an arm up on the competition.

Back downstairs at the Library, it was just as crowded at the Hell on Heels show. The band was still tuning up and the room was already full, while a long line of people waited outside to show their IDs.

A few doors down at My Big Fat Greek Restaurant, a thick throng of young and old drank beer and swayed to the psychedelic grooves of Lymbyc Systym. Since Jared Bell was sitting at the organ and his brother Michael was at the drums, no one except the people right in front could see the band. But you could hear the swinging melodies even out on the street. When Jared finished a wild, Doors-style keyboard solo, the whole place cheered.

Around 8:30, two neighboring Mill Avenue venues were like a musical yin and yang. On one side, at the Mill Cue Club, Soloman was spinning loud, thumping hip-hop to a sparsely filled room. Most of the people were in the back, hanging around the pool tables. On the other side of the wall, at Rio Salado Salt River Saloon, a dark, cramped roomful of mostly male fans pumped its fists to Greenhaven's guitar barrage.

Senbad was spinning exotic house grooves over on the patio at Ra, and the clusters of people dancing or lounging around tables looked like they were content to stay there all night long. Outside, a giant cloud of pot smoke lingered in the cool spring air.

At 9:20, when Jed's a Millionaire finally started performing at McDuffy's, every seat in the house was filled. Many of those left standing shook their hips to singer Shawn Harrington's melodic rock choruses, while some people just wobbled in place like they'd had a few too many drinks. People continued to pour through the door and headed to any nook or cranny where they could get a good view of the spotlit band. Every song got loud applause and whistles.

By the end of the night, the definition of "punk rock" was still debatable. And it was up in the air as to whether any of the Showcase bands -- Metric included -- will become big stars. What was evident is that local bands are definitely not getting any fans handed to them on a silver platter. Instead, they're figuring out how to earn them the hard way -- one song at a time.

Sorry for the attitude.

E-mail michele.laudig@newtimes.com, or call 602-229-8497.

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