Country music cliche' met New Wave futurism at the 9:30 club Friday night in the form of Rubber Rodeo, and the musical idea proved as silly and contrived as it sounds. This seven-piece band, decked out in full cowboy regalia, mixed the sound of two synthesizers with a pedal steel guitar in an attempt to create a kind of parodistic modern Western music. Its version of "Tumblin' Tumbleweeds" came off as a quirky piece of electronic calypso, more odd than satisfying. When leader Bob Holmes offered his own honky-tonk number, "Your Finger Scratched My World," the song proved nothing but a second-rate piece of synth-pop delivered in Holmes' honest-to-goodness Bryan Ferry mannerisms.
The opening act, The Incredible Casuals, was ragged and not quite right. This New England quartet tried to project a loose and goofy type of pop charm, not unlike the Lovin' Spoonful, but lacked the musical verve to pull it off. Despite some nice Beatlesque melodies in songs like "Gotta Have You," neither Chandler Travis nor Junior Spampinato sang well and the band's harmonies remained more a promise than a reality. Despite its somewhat sloppy sound, the Casuals managed to get the crowd dancing with playful surf songs like "Let's Go."