by Carly Lewis
“This is dance music,” said Miles McDougall, the lone member of Pikachunes. “So feel free to dance.” The audience didn’t exactly take him up on that offer, but for a guy playing angsty electro-pop at 7 p.m., the tapping toes and bobbing heads throughout the audience were a good start. Synthy but sinister, Pikachunes’ meshing of haunting harmonies and slow, lower-than-deep vocals wound up falling somewhere between a Joy Division dance remix and the early days of MGMT, back when it was a cheesy undergraduate two-piece giggling its way through house shows. Pikachunes doesn’t seem like a guy who giggles, though. He plays the disenfranchised, bass-heavy electro archetype well. The second song in his set, “Love Hate,” was about getting made fun of on the Internet, and “Metronome” (a show highlight) was even moodier than the rest. In this case, that’s a compliment.
The Golden Awesome is a rock band through and through, but its supremely nostalgic channeling of the ’90s will either lure you in or make you cringe, depending on how you feel about that era. With pretty vocals peaking out from beneath numerous layers of shoegaze-ish noise rock, comparisons to the Dandy Warhols were inevitable during last night’s show. If you can get past the fact that this band sounds like music you’ve already heard though, the Golden Awesome kind of rules. The last song of the set, “A Thousand Nights In One Night,” felt like a trip down a reverberating rabbit hole, fearlessly led by singer Stef Animal (of Mëstar notoriety), followed through with raggedy riffs on the way back up.
Much like a coin toss, Popstrangers’ set last night began with uncertainty: Would every song sound as strenuously whiny as the first? Would the audience be subjected to the same brand of generic sounds they could easily have dialed up on FM radio? Luckily for everyone, the answer was no. After the audience seemed a little unsure of how to react (Is this a rock band? A pop act with rock sensibilities? A jam session in a parent’s basement?), Popstrangers’ picked it up, leaving all in attendance assured that they had indeed transcended the basement days. Drummer Elliot Rawson’s frantic hands are partly to thank for the set’s progression, even if the band’s attempt to be dark felt a little too cute. Still, this set had some great moments, including the band’s new single, “What Else Could They Do?”