If the name wasn't French for "Girls Who Rock," nobody would've noticed the girl-band theme at Saturday's second installment of La Femme Qui Rock. This was no Lone Star Lilith Fair: no political sloganeering and no delicate acoustic folk built around teenage diary entries. It was just a long night of music with a wide variety of Texas bands that happened to feature women.
Austin experimental two-piece One Umbrella opened the evening with instrumental weirdness. Created with various electronics, theremin and E-bowed and violin-bowed guitar, the songs seemed mostly improvised--loosely arranged to build gradually to a climax of ear-splitting computer squeals. There were few discernible melodies, not much on the low end and the only thing I thought approximated a drum track later proved, shattering my pretense of musical expertise, to be a rattling A/C unit in the club's ceiling. And yet we were all transfixed. Then, Dallas trio The Shapes played '60s garage songs with mostly clean guitar, walking bass and bouncing drumbeats behind Patricia Rodriguez's unadorned, almost dull singing. Super Love Attack's set stole the long middle section of the night, alternating between boy-girl harmonies on loud, crunching chord progressions and dreamier songs with chiming guitar notes and oozing Moog lines.
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Aside from a few irritating falsetto shouts, jetscreamer's grimy, psychedelic blues-rock sounded pretty good when they were actually playing, but their set often jerked to a stop, restarted and stopped again like a 15-year-old learning to use a stick shift--an amateurish surprise from such a Denton mainstay. Meanwhile, Austin's Belaire showed that pale, gaunt kids playing synth-pop can get a roomful of Dallas scenesters to dance--or at least nod along. After Austin's Knife in the Water played a quiet, slow set of dark songs and sweet harmonies, the Happy Bullets built the crowd back up and tore down the house. Their stomping riot of almost-too-happy pop left the crowd, after seven hours of good music (and forgotten '60s nuggets from DJ Wild in the Streets between sets), spent as we made our way into the shiny-shirted carnival of Hummer limousines and public vomiting that is Lower Greenville at 2 a.m.