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After fiddling with their set-up for a while, LoveLikeFire took the stage with a charge. They're a band out of San Francisco that you need to hear. The lead singer is a mezzo-soprano with a great voice that was drowned out by her band's sound for the first few songs, but then by the end of the set they had things balanced out. Sometimes, when she sings, her palms press against the air and she moves like she's leaning against a chain-link fence, sending her voice through a hole to the audience on the other side. LoveLikeFire plays guitar-driven songs about love and life, but the band has that special ingredient that makes you want to listen to more--by the end of their set, the audience had grown and was applauding like mad.
Local band The Purrs played the next set, and it seemed like they were having an off night. The lead singer bawled "tip your pharmacists!" into the mike and kept up a dubious banter, but his heart wasn't into it. However, The Purrs came into their own with an armageddon song dedicated to Arthur C. Clarke and the song "Taste of Monday," a psychadelic indie-pop number with hints of a relationship gone down the drain, was a lovely cherry on the top of their playlist.
By the time The Pica Beats came on, the audience had thinned (as people tend to do when the night wears on) but the energy in the room was still palpable. At one point, they pulled out a sitar. A SITAR. Who has one of those, much less knows how to play it?? The band played a mellow, lovely set of folksy indie pop to end the night: a smooth blending of the normal keyboard/guitar/egg shaker combo, yet somehow manage to make it new without using excessive pre-recorded or looped electonic additions.
(Pica Beats with sitar photo by Steve Louie)