The Suburbs, a Minneapolis new wave quintet, don't so much defy description as simply confound it with an extremely eccentric and eclectic stylistic mix.
If the band's show at the 9:30 Club last night occasionally lacked artistic focus, it was so solidly rigged to the mechanics of the dance floor that the bottom could never fall out. No matter whether the band's musical intentions were physically funky, coolly alienated or heatedly passionate, the Suburbs' superb rhythm section kept everything sweaty and a step away from artsy dilettantism.
The Suburbs' show was dominated by keyboardist Chan Polling and guitarist Blaine Chaney. Their angular organ and guitar lines granted a disorienting tension to even the band's most conventional compositions. If the Suburbs had a problem, it was that neither the howlingly phonetic Chaney nor the stylishly mannered Polling provided the strong singular presence needed to make their songs move past the immediacy of the dance floor.
Nonetheless, as their set progressed, the Suburbs built an ominous intensity out of the sheer energy of their vocal and instrumental attack. In the end, the irresistible throb of their fractured funk, their zany singing and weird instrumental bits kept everything physical and pleasantly off-center.