In a move that surely shocked about seven Dallas music fans, cover band The Upside Downers changed their name to The Shapes. The new moniker debuted at Bar of Soap on Saturday, and when I asked members of the packed crowd what the big deal was, they told me the band was also unveiling entirely new material. I found that hard to believe, as their five-chord flower pop sounded like a grittier Apples in Stereo, which wasn't as original as Shapes fans had led me to expect. Still, the set was tight, and the trio's best moments came when lead guitarist Lance Pilgrim opened up. His solos struck the perfect balance of restraint and whimsy, and they also gave the muscle-bound rhythm section a chance to shine. Too bad about the drunk guy on tambourines--when he wasn't off-tempo, he overshadowed the fine drumming of Chuck Spurlock.
Bar of Soap couldn't handle headliner Jack With One Eye's massive volume levels, but despite the low vocal mix and crappy guitar separation, the stuff I could make out was very exciting. Much of the set sounded like a drunken bar fight between Sonic Youth and Minor Threat, as pounding guitar riffs swirled into synthesizers and resulted in a dark beauty Black Rebel Motorcycle Club only wishes it could pull off. Unfortunately, Mila Lux's vocals, which ranged from breathy pleading to catlike yowling, often didn't match the weight of the noisy compositions, but even the band's simplest songs didn't bore me thanks to smart use of noise and feedback. If Dallas music fans should be shocked about anything, it's that JWOE has been kicking around unnoticed for years, but concerts like Saturday's could change that soon enough.