Trans Am performs Thursday, March 18 at Gypsy Tea Room, with the Von Bondies, the Fever and the Rogers Sisters.
Describing Trans Am without falling back on journalistic cliché is a tricky thing. For almost a decade, the D.C. trio has been many things: an inspired hybrid of electronics and rock, satirists of style (particularly of the 1980s) and sly genre grave robbers. Oh, screw it. Their debut is "electro-prog," and their masterpiece, Red Line, is "tribal doom." Clichés be damned, Trans Am is strange and good, and the band's headlining slot on the Tea Room side of Gypsy on Tuesday is intriguing for reasons of both head-scratching and rump-shaking. Touring in support of the new Liberation LP (which is weighed down by ironic "war...what is it good for?" samples--too easy for a band so slippery), their set will cap a retro rave-up, with support coming from the Fever and the Rogers Sisters. Both outfits are inoffensively compatible with the "We heart Ric Ocasek" scene, so the real wild card of the bill defaults to Detroit's the Von Bondies since they subscribe to the other hipster sect of the moment--that of bristly Iggy rock. The fuzzed-out unisex quartet is quite good, yet vocalist/guitarist Jason Stollsteimer has done his best to lock the band into the category of notorious novelty by totally getting his ass KICKED courtesy of former hometown mentor Jack White of the White Stripes.