The gear area of the Double Wide's show room had an unusual inventory Friday night. In addition to the usual drums, guitars and Fender amps, there were the lights: six of the silver clip-on variety (three for Dynah, the opening quartet from Austin, and three for Black Tie Dynasty, the Dallas headliner) and The Hourly Radio's free-standing theater lamps, controlled from afar and punctuating their songs with dims and strobes. Onstage there were ties, blazers, striped shirts, head-to-toe black and haircuts that could have been swiped from the photo files of Blur and Suede. This was not a night of just-rolled-out-of-bed rock and roll.
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But the preparation didn't end with dramatic lights and snazzy outfits. All three bands--young though they are--were tight, dynamic and original, though heavily influenced by Brit pop. Dynah was heavy on the guitar effects with a spaceyness tempered by solid pop, a Radiohead-meets-The Promise Ring sound. The Hourly Radio, also fond of the effects pedals but without being wanky, weren't overshadowed by the light show, even successfully covering Pulp's "Common People," though singer Aaron Closson sounded more like Material Issue's Jim Ellison than Jarvis Cocker. Finally Black Tie Dynasty, a Dallas quartet preparing for the November release of its six-song EP This Stays Between Us, plays dark but danceable '80s Brit pop in the vein of Psychedelic Furs or Echo and the Bunnymen. Theirs are the kind of smart but catchy tunes that could have been featured in Pretty in Pink. The seemingly nonsensical lyrics (something about crime scenes and ice cream) paired with the dark tone is reminiscent of Interpol. These bands may mine similar territory, yes, but they still deserve the spotlight.