New Year's Eve concerts? No thanks. Overpriced tickets and drunken crowds are hardly worth a free glass of champagne, but the worst comes when the music stops while couples sneak midnight kisses. Lucky for bitter, single music fans, the Gypsy Tea Room concert on the day before New Year's Eve was remarkably kiss-less--unless, of course, you count Kissinger. The Austin quartet opened with a classic-rock take on punk, but singer-guitarist Chopqper's apparent boredom turned the saucy band into a formulaic snoozer. Only when a few cute girls approached the stage at set's end did Chopqper finally shake his hips and have a little fun, and after the crowd filled with many more of those girls, Dallas' Golden Falcons blasted off with an hour-long atomic bomb of hardcore rock. Gypsy's sound system boosted the sextet, particularly newest member Johnny Mars, whose synthesizers finally stood out in the mix and added an unexpected touch of Echo and the Bunnymen to the fist-pumping songs. Guitarists Joshua Weber and George Terry also made the best of the sound, as their riff and solo trade-offs had the sonic space needed to flex their muscles. Still, despite loud applause for the Falcons' stunning set, the fresh-faced crowd made it clear they'd arrived for the radio-ready sounds of Mur. The Dallas favorites, who moved to L.A. a few months ago, put on a homecoming show that would bring a tear to a major label's eye. Lead singer Max Hartman looked close to stabbing himself in the stomach with his guitar as he belted Coldplay-esque anthems, and the quartet's knack for little pop moments, like sudden silences and abrupt bursts of melody, turned songs like "Tuesday Morning" into room-shaking wonders and made up for Hartman's frequent pauses to change guitar strings. Nobody kissed during the pauses, though--thank God.
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