Without even sounding a note, the members of England's Danse Society made a strong impression on the crowd at the 9:30 club Saturday night, having festooned the stage with heraldic banners, wreathed it in colored lights and enough dry ice fog to shut down Dulles Airport, and combed their hair out to look as sheep-doggish as possible. On the video monitors that now flank the club's stage, the group looked like high school students ready to mime Aerosmith records.
Danse Society is one of the leading lights of the so-called "positive punk," or "cold wave," movement the British pop press is pushing so desperately these days. But when the band began to play, out came a rush of thrashing, leaden noise that would have made most heavy metal fans feel perfectly at home.
Most of the songs opened with delicate melodic synthesizer passages but quickly grew into roiling messes of overbearing drums and slushy guitar and bass. The keyboards, throughout the set, lent shape, color and a much-needed touch of lightness to the proceedings that otherwise seemed merely an excuse for the lead singer to muss his hair and act more and more angst ridden.