Doing Retro References RightDoing Retro References Right

Last night I caught the Brooklyn stop of the Evangelicals/Holiday Shores tour, which continues for five more days. Rarely have I seen two acts so perfectly suited to perform together: Both reference 1960s pop and garage rock while putting their different spins on it--and without sounding like simple regurgitation, the way a lot of "retro" bands do no matter what era they're copying.

The first band I saw at Union Hall was Tallahassee, Florida's Holiday Shores. When you can say that a group's synth sounds evoke the classic Moog so perfectly, there isn't much more praise to offer. Also, these guys do vocal harmonies well enough play a Byrds cover. But there's also a deliberate rawness--"reverb-soaked vocals" and "warbling Rhodes," as their Twosyllable Records profile describes it--that renewed my appreciation for the original garage bands that came out of the '60s, which embraced rough-hewn edginess over slick Brill Building-written pop hits. The fight against pre-fab (and now Auto-Toned) chart-toppers continues, and I'm glad Holiday Shores is on the right side.

Headliners the Evangelicals hail from Norman, Oklahoma, and so there's a midwestern sweetness to their show that I can appreciate. Maybe not sweetness, exactly, but more like they eschew irony and ennui in favor of simultaneously rocking the house while provoking thought. I could hear the Animals and the Doors in their songs almost as clearly as if I'd gone back in time. But inexplicably, the rhythm section will start cranking a disco beat. Or all four band members will wail loudly--yet still prettily--kind of like The Frames. Lead singer Josh Jones' voice teeters between tenor and alto, sounding at times like David Byrne or Robert Smith, offering another unexpected layer in the Evangelicals' music.

Boston, Buffalo, Cleveland, Chicago, and Bloomington still have a chance to catch the show--which was so good that although I went just to hang out with a friend, I ended up compelled to write this review.


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