It was billed as "a new deal for new music," but the three local bands that performed at the Bayou Monday night wrestled with an age-old problem: getting people to dance.
At first the scene was reminiscent of a prom night standoff. Virtually everyone remained seated, content to watch Here Today's vocalist Joe Connor assume a few of David Bowie's mannerisms or writhe on stage like a man possessed. A fiercely manic and theatrical performer, Connor tickled the eyes more than the feet.
Graphic Shadows fared better, but only after struggling through half of its set. In the beginning, the band's rhythmically insistent funk/rap tunes and outright appeals ("Here's a great dance tune") fell on deaf ears and an empty dance floor. In time, though, the band won the small crowd over with a consistent, if hardly remarkable, mix of New Wave dance material.
The Velvet Monkeys then kept the dancers happily hopping, by combining hectoring vocals with agitated rhythms and art rock lyrics. While the Monkeys can create awfully tedious and dreary music at times, they also can sustain a lasting dance-rock intensity if the audience is willing to give them half a chance. Monday night, all three bands were lucky to get that.