The Features are indie rockers from Sparta, Tennessee, an eighth-grade startup born of small-town boredom. Coming of age in a cultural backwater of less than 5000 had its limitations, and a lot of the Features’ songwriting focuses on what they want the most: a path out of lack and desperation. “They’ve given me a plastic hat, earphones, and a funny net for my hair/ I’m well prepared,” sings Matthew Pelham. “Time comes when you have to choose/ an occupation you can use.”
Pelham gives his characters an Eric Burdon “We gotta get outta this place” youth-shout full of promise and idealism: “One day we’re gonna make a change/ We’re gonna turn this mess around.” You’ve heard this sentiment many times through the years, but what scraps are left for an indie rocker except to honor the past?
And honor it they do, but in ways that are not so new. The video for “Lions” has the Features performing on a rooftop, with Pelham using a blond Epiphone Casino guitar just like John Lennon played during the Fab Four’s final gig on the rooftop of Apple Records. But Pelham’s guitar sounds like chaos (perfect!), and the organ is all Farfisa stabs and jolts, preserving at least a semblance of indie-ness. Fellow Tennesseans Kings of Leon picked them out of the indie rabble to be the first group signed to their Snakes and Serpents label, and critics see big things ahead for the Features. Based on the frenetics of the band’s live shows, these critics predict that the small-venue low-dollar gigs will soon be a thing of the past. Minus a solid jolt of creative independence, I disagree.
The Beautiful View and Kevin Martin also perform.
THE FEATURES: Soda Bar, Saturday, February 11, 8:30 p.m. $10.