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After setting his axe down, Dirty Beaches' Alex Zhang Hungtai sticks a finger in his ear and wiggles it, blurting, "Fuck!" The feedback demons he's attempting to exorcise did little to deter paeans to empty roads and alienated guitar tones; effected via recorded bongos/kit beats with tide-pool-cool reverb that kept winding tight as a drum before exploding in string-crunching fury. Hungtai's more obvious link with show hub La Sera flashed with the neon of "True Blue," a make-out dream jammed with incoherent young-love drivel. Finally, Suicide has competition.

Heavy Hawaii was a revelation: if other bands with vocals like Brian Wilson's — who're influenced by Rivers Cuomo and circus music — hear HH, San Diego could be the next Seattle for amazing rock/pop absurdity. As it was, the chunky rhythms and marshmallow-fluffiness levitating the refrain "Now I know you want me bad" had hipsters in a near-swoon.

La Sera's shimmering harmonies were buried beneath blistering rat-a-tats and over-amped Les Paul tones for its first few songs; a dilemma that improved in time for on-point, Phil Spector–like original "Never Come Around" and a run through "Dedicated to the One I Love" that garnered the plums from previous versions and underscored the melody with love-struck bass lines.

Montreal-based No Joy took Art Fag's retro fest full circle, cranking distortion and volume to a level that would probably be stamped "Approved" by Sonic Youth and climaxing with a stunner that sounded vaguely like "Leader of the Pack" before packing its instruments and leaving echo and feedback to fight over the last word.

  • Concert: Dirty Beaches, La Sera, Heavy Hawaii, No Joy
  • Date: November 7
  • Venue: Tin Can Ale House
  • Seats: Up front, to the left
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