Austin's Grand Champeen puts on such exciting rock concerts that they shame the band's albums. Thus, it was a bit odd to hear singer-guitarist Channing Lewis open the show by saying, "We'll be playing some new songs tonight. Not that any of y'all care." Actually, the crowd did: Champeen fans filled Double Wide and sang along to older tracks while lapping up poppy new ones, including the catchy, love-torn "Wounded Eye." The whole thing ripped and roared while paying spirited homage to early-'80s Replacements, but none of it prepared fans for the final song: a note-perfect, passionate cover of The Who's "A Quick One While He's Away."
Dallas' The Hundred Inevitables followed with the opposite problem: Their songs sounded better suited for a home stereo than the Double Wide stage. Deep Blue Something's Toby Pipes led the group with light, melodic vocals--similar to Destroyer's Dan Bejar--that were crowded out by loud, riff-heavy songs. Fortunately, once Pipes sat down with his organ and sang to softer songs, his presence came through and a subtle touch of jazz boosted the group.
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Headliners The Now were the best band I've ever hated. I think they stole a critics' checklist from Spin magazine but only went so far as to copy it. Bits of Franz Ferdinand, The Strokes and Pablo Honey-era Radiohead that combined into midtempo super-rockers? Check. Double lead-guitar lines that went all crazy and sounded a little Phish-ey? Check. A lead singer whose big, love-song vocals could magnetically attract women's panties? Check. So what was missing? Well, for starters, The Now had no soul. Every song sounded the same. The quintet looked bored, and the crowd saw through it, offering only lukewarm applause. With all that said, though, their combination of talent and heartlessness sounds destined to nail a major-label deal by the end of 2005.