MANDO DIAO with the COMAS and AMBER ROOM at the Horseshoe, April 29. Tickets: $10. Attendance: 300. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
If band folklore equalled showmanship, North Carolina quintet the Comas would be one of the most engaging live bands working today.
From their roots as a joke band and lead singer Andy Herod's breakup with Dawson's Creek wash-up Michelle Williams (the two must have been too adorable together, with their Hummel-worthy faces) to the beach-house-secluded emotional abyss that spawned their oft-praised Conductor album, they've got backstory in heaps.
But stage presence? Not so much. When muttering into the mic and taking off your sweater when it gets too hot are your most memorable moves (as they were when the group hit the Horseshoe Friday), maybe it's time to prepare a joke or two in advance or learn how to move your legs, just to shake things up.
As for the music, totally different story. The quintet travelled tightly through their schizo catalogue, including the dunderhead riffing of "stoner pop" numbers like Invisible Drugs and the spooky Eastern-influenced analog-synth-infused pulp of The Science Of Your Mind with zero upsets and pleasing harmonies by Herod and guitarist Nicole Gehweiler.
Drainingly, though, their set was ordered from most to least upbeat.
Maybe that's why, half an hour later, I had so little patience with headliners Mando Diao. As far as I can tell, these guys are just straight-up assholes. They all seem really into themselves for being the 179th hot new garage revival band to break out of Sweden in the last three years.
That's not to say the music was weak: the degree of torque they injected into their show was striking, frontman Gustaf Norén's splashes of harmonica sounded cool, and they raised as much hell as they could. But their shitty attitude still made them hard to like.
Typical example? After a couple of super-high-energy jams got the dance floor hot and audience members started making the expected rock-show howls, Norén declared, "I want every one of you to shut up," adding with cutesy smarm, "in a very friendly way."
It always grates when the cock outweighs the rock.