When teamed with Martin Rev in the experimental duo Suicide, Alan Vega's aggressive psycho-drama was at least occasionally a challenge to the musical and theatrical conventions of rock. Vega's show at the 9:30 club Saturday night found him sacrificing the anxiety-producing unpredictability of his past art in favor of a danceable brand of chanted, space-age rockabilly that was occasionally hypnotic, but mostly monotonous.
Backed by a three-piece band that seemed riveted, hard-rock fashion, to a singular rhythmic roar, Vega's flat, expressionless voice moaned, groaned and growled through his mantralike compositions. Even his Gene Vincent tribute, "Be Bop a Lula," was shaped, like Vega's originals, into one long and insincere erotic overture to the audience, an explicit reminder of how sexual and guileless rockabillies like Vincent were.
The opening act, Social Suicide, was as angry, brief and committed as its local hardcore brethren. Wearing its amateurishness and sincerity like a badge of courage, this four-piece D.C. punk outfit bashed out a wall-of-noise set that was less an invitation to dance than a dare. However, only on "30-Second Holiday," a song with an undeniable melodic flair and exciting dynamics, did the band escape the narrow and self-imposed stylistic orthodoxy that limits so many hardcore bands.