Glass Candy and
The Shattered Theater
Glass Candy and the Shattered Theater didn't take long Tuesday evening to get things smoking at the Black Cat. After just one song, the band had blown an amplifier, causing an acrid scent to waft about the room. A smoke machine would have been the perfect accessory to its post-punk mash-up of Blondie, Bowie and Bauhaus, but the band probably didn't have this in mind.
After 10 minutes of trouble-shooting, the Portland duo resumed the hypnotic groove as if the episode never even happened, rocking along with a sequencer that pumped out sharp dance beats and wheezing synth lines. Singer Ida No shimmied and twirled to the electronic pulse as she delivered bracing shrieks, while guitarist Johnny Jewel churned out riffs fuzzier than the Kangol hat covering his greasy locks.
The band scored high marks on the dance floor with a thumping cover of the Screamers' "I Wanna Hurt." But where those proto-synth-punks lurched and lumbered, Glass Candy chose to bump and grind -- and fans followed suit.
The duo occasionally lost its footing when Jewel's guitar work strayed from no-nonsense, T-Rexian licks into '80s metal indulgences. The riffage clogged the cadence and fouled the band's icy-cool aesthetic with a stink of campy revivalism.
But what Glass Candy lacked in musical discretion it compensated for with sartorial flair and sex appeal. "How's my hair?" Ida No asked coyly as she primped her bleach-fried coif between numbers. The audience hollered cheers of approval, eagerly awaiting the next song.
-- Chris Richards
Tone Rangers, Vox Populi
There were no electric guitars in sight at Jammin' Java on Tuesday as two local a cappella groups powered rock ballads with nothing but their voices. Vox Populi, 15 men and women, opened by alternating between chaotic arrangements of radio hits (Duran Duran's "Rio" and Linkin Park's "In the End") and mellow renditions of older songs (Stephen Bishop's "On and On" and a soulful version of Van Morrison's "Moondance").
Next came the Tone Rangers, a group of eight strait-laced men who spend their days as lobbyists and lawyers. The octet shed those preppy images, singing not one but two Elvis tunes -- complete with pelvic swivels and facial tics. Baritone Mike Beresik even sang "Viva Las Vegas" out of the side of his mouth, just like the King.
Flawless harmonies are a given in a group with eight voices that are consistently pitch-perfect, but the Rangers supplemented that precision with a congenial stage presence. Their arrangements transitioned smoothly (they somehow worked both the "Flintstones" theme and "Chopsticks" into the middle of a love song), and each voice filled the space where a rock band would have put a guitar, a sitar or even a trumpet. The Rangers had their serious moments, too, performing a Yeats poem set to song ("Down by Salley Gardens"), an original composition ("Helen" -- as in, of Troy), and Paul Carrack's "I Need You," which featured Gil Keteltas's sweet tenor gliding gracefully over the melody.
Throughout their 50-minute set, the Rangers showed that through their voices alone they could make any song their own -- and if those "real jobs" on Capitol Hill don't work out, they have a truly solid talent to fall back on.
-- Catherine P. Lewis