Pour equal parts of dance floor beats and rock riffs and a dash each of punk, techno and country into a cocktail shaker, mix like a madman, and you might get something like Luscious Jackson's eclectic, electric set Tuesday night at the 9:30 club.
The evening began with Cibo Matto heating up the sellout crowd with its fusion cuisine of Japanese-accented hip-hop, girl-group pop and more (successive songs evoked Santana, Black Sabbath, Run-DMC and '70s-vintage easy-listening pop).
Luscious Jackson was a little more direct in its appeal, with a set full of propulsive grooves and pretty melodies. The group indulged its pop sensibilities on its latest record, but Tuesday's show offered only a few signs of this--a twangy version of "Why Should I Lie?", the rather delicate choruses of the current single "Ladyfingers," even a Hall & Oates sample rumbling from a turntable between two songs.
The rest of the set was more about giving people an excuse to grind. The disco-inspired jam of "Bam-Bam" set the tone early; "Alien Lover" delivered some solid, bass-heavy rhythms, while "Country's A Callin' " belied the bucolic longings of its lyrics with a tight funk groove. The band careened through heady performances of "Christine" and "Nervous Breakthrough," then closed the show with "Citysong," with help from Cibo Matto. Things ended in a satisfying flurry of people onstage and on the floor screaming, yelling and jumping up and down.
Henry Rollins was stuck with a bum microphone for the first few songs of his performance at Nation on Tuesday night, but this was actually sort of a bonus for the audience. After all, a happy Rollins would probably be a boring Rollins, and the foul-up gave the former local gym rat an excuse to get hopping mad, bellowing a stream of unprintables at the sound crew while flashing his menacing Travis Bickle smile.
After that rough start, Rollins was off and running, flinging sheets of sweat off his bare, tattooed torso with every move by the end of the second song. It was an entirely new Rollins Band lineup (the new members come from the L.A.-based Mother Superior) that played mostly unreleased material. But the new stuff isn't a major departure; for Rollins, a straightforward "Just do it" philosophy still sums up life and how to live it.
Simple, heavy, no-frills slabs of rage, songs like "Summer Nights" and "Love's So Heavy" focus on such everyday subjects as jealousy and love, but Rollins also continues to point his anger and his sense of humor in unexpected directions. He introduced "On the Day" as his idea of how certain biblical events would have been different if Jesus had been from Brooklyn and less willing to turn the other cheek.