What It Was Like: Chin Chin, Silversun Pickups, Amanda Blank, Thunderheist, Headlights, Asobi Seksu

Act: Chin Chin, a group of would-be yacht rockers from Brooklyn
Where: Club De Ville
What It Was Like: Trying to figure out if the whole thing was a joke or not, really. The band's blue-eyed soul sound was a little hokey, and no doubt that sense was only enhanced by the lead singer's choice of attire: a pink leisure suit. His backing band dressed less loudly, all in black.
Verdict: Like watching a bunch of goofballs not realizing that the yacht sailed off long ago. A few years back, for whatever reason, the sounds of Darryl Hall and John Oates, among many many others (Africa, much?) received a huge boost in ironic coolness. These guys didn't seem to get the memo that the trend has also been played out like crazy...

Act: Silversun Pickups, one of the biggest indie bands in all of Los Angeles.
Where: Stubb's
What It Was Like: Like watching a band truly marvel at the scenario in which it found itself. Opening for Metallica at the mega-huge band's not-so-secret show for 3,000 people? Not many bands get to do that. "We're just as excited to be here as you guys are," frontman Brian Aubert told the crowd. "I know you're not here to see us. Anyway, the Spin Doctors are coming up next. They're the secret band. You didn't know?" Credit where it's due: This band could've played another crowded showcase on the strength of its own name.
Verdict: Tough to say. I, like most people, think there's some enjoyment to be had in Silversun Pickups' sound. And I, like most people who've heard it, really do enjoy the band's song "Lazy Eye." Can't say I necessarily am too familiar with the rest of the band's output, though, and now that I've seen them, I don't know if that changes. Still, the band was likeable enough in the crazy spotlight of this performance.

Act: Amanda Blank, a Philadelphia-based singer and rapper.
Where: Club De Ville
What It Was Like: Like watching a performer who looks like a bush-league Amy Winehouse, sing-raps like a bush-league Kid Sister and doesn't have the stage presence of either. Crowd was into it, though.
Verdict: All energy, no substance. Without the crowd dancing along, I really doubt that this stuff would be all that enjoyable. But with guest spots from Spank Rock and Lykke Li on her upcoming disc, maybe I'll be eating these words later.

Act: Thunderheist, a Toronto-based producer/DJ and female MC combo.
Where: Club De Ville
What It Was Like: Kinda like watching a female DMG$--within 20 seconds of their first song, Thunderheist's frontwoman jumped into the crowd to dance with the people. Makes sense, DMG$ and Thunderheist are labelmates and about to head out on tour together.
Verdict: Eh. The blips and beeps and beats made for nice backing music, but where Thunderheist falls and DMG$ scores is on the wordplay. Trak Bully and Coool Dundee don't let the music carry their sound; Thunderheist does, with the female vocalist simply playing hype/hook machine.

Act: Headlights, female-fronted indie popsters from Champaign, Illinois.
Where: Habana Calle 6 Patio
What It Was Like: Like watching a whole crowd fall in love. And watching former tourmates have a blast: At one point during Headlights' set, the band invited members of the band Evangelicals--who'd played in Dallas alongside Headlights at The Cavern about a year ago--to join them in playing percussion and singing backing vocals.
Verdict: The jam with both bands was pretty cool. And rockier and louder than most Headlights fare, which can sometimes border on twee. Some of Headlights' stuff can be that loud on its own, though--and thats the stuff I prefer from them. Headlights' louder stuff, when its instrumentation crashes around frontwoman Erin Fien's dreamy vocals, is great.

Act: Asobi Seksu, a borderline shoegaze-y, wall-of-sound outfit from Brooklyn, whose name translates to "casual sex".
Where: Habana Calle 6 Patio
What It Was Like: Kind of like School of Seven Bells, actually, given the crushing, female-fronted sounds of both bands. In this case, the band employed elements of shoegaze, post-punk, dissonant guitars and artsy vocals.
Verdict: For such a tiny person, Asobi Seksu frontwoman Yuki Chikudate sure can hit a loud, wide range. Impressive as she was, though, the sound around her was more so. Just a huge, crushing, crashing submersion of reverb-heavy effects and guitar sounds. Never heard this on record beofre; now, I'm looking forward to the chance.

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