Opposing forces with similar traits ruled the night Saturday at Great American Music Hall, where four synth-rock bands with San Francisco shared a single bill.
Highlighted by the dark pop of Dangermaker and the happy-go-lucky dance pop of Panic Is Perfect, the lineup included shorter sets by the post-rock of Abbot Kinney and the New Order-loving Vacances.
The co-headliners, Dangermaker and Panic is Perfect, had nothing in common besides their home base and their ability to make people dance. Dangermaker’s Adam Burnett, celebrating a birthday the previous day, ran his band through a nearly 50-minute set of up-tempo brooders, opening with their biggest song, “Something More.” Keyboardist Dave DeAngelis, the melodic backbone of the band, broke out a violin for the gypsy-sounding “Another Bad Dream,” which shouldn’t have worked but did anyway because the instrument refused to be drowned out by the drums, bass and guitar. Toward the end of the set, Dangermaker covered David Bowie’s 1980 song “Ashes To Ashes,” which some in the crowd immediately picked up, but others did not since the band was able to mask the song in its own signature sounds.
Panic Is Perfect, meanwhile, ended the night on a jubilant note. The band, fronted by Mike Hoffman, entered from the rear of the room in a marching band-style drum line as a Kylo Ren egged the crowd on from the stage with a plastic lightsaber. The band’s dance pop fits somewhere between Grouplove and Gogol Bordello. “I could be dead tomorrow,” Hoffman ruminated at the top of the set. “No, really: I could be dead tomorrow. So I just want to be here with you guys tonight and be joyous.”
Abbot Kinney, also a San Francisco band, had perhaps the most unique set of the four, due to its post- and prog-rock elements. Vocalist Jared Swanson’s smokey falsetto split the difference between Chris Martin and Matt Bellamy. Keyboard jam “One Is All You Need” permeated with shades of Pink Floyd in a live setting, and the debut of a new track, “It’s the Middle of the Night,” proved a worthy mood piece the night before it got its radio premiere on Live 105 the next night.
Vacances frontman Danny Lannon, formerly of San Francisco, got the night off to a hot start while simultaneously showing why his new songs didn’t fit with his previous band, The Frail. While the former act leaned very closely toward The Cure, the songs of Vacances were written for fans of New Order. Lannon and Co. used the opportunity — they were added to the bill only a week prior — to showcase their self-titled debut EP.
— Roman Gokhman