The two bands at the 9:30 club Saturday night didn't play dance music so much as mimic dancing's movement with sound.

This was especially true of the opening act, Georgia's Method Actors. They created a lumpy, jumpy body of taut, conflicting rhythms via expressive drumming and Vic Varney's kinetic bass work.

On their last visit here, the Method Actors were augmented by a guitar player who emphasized the tunefulness of Varney's powerful vocals and writing. This time they brought along a sax player whose continuous honking washed them out.

Matters improved somewhat when he silenced the horn and began whacking at an odd metal box adorned with blinking colored lights. The set really took off only on "Rang-A-Tang"; Varney switched to guitar, adding a richer melodic element that would have benefited the whole set.

The Higsons, a British outfit making its American debut, played less-ambitious material with better results. Most of the group's songs were propulsive if predictable post-funk that made the most of small details: sassy, sparingly deployed Afro-pop horns; jittery percussive breaks; zany repeated lyric refrains like "it goes waap"; every so often a tasty guitar lick.