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Concert review: Secret Colours, Panda Riot, Geronimo! at Beat Kitchen 8/14/10 (with photo slideshow)

For fans of Chicago's local music scene, Saturday's late show at Beat Kitchen was well worth seeing, with two local acts making appearances at the record release for Chicago's Secret Colours.

Opening act Geronimo! is always fun to see live, and they played a set of high-energy 90s-inflected pop punk.  Their sound is heavy, with big, booming drums laying the foundation for fuzzy, mildly-distorted guitar and spacey keyboards.  Singer/guitarist Kelly Johnson is particularly interesting to watch, wrenching and twisting his body as he strains to reach the mic or play a solo.  The guys in the band seem to have a really good time playing together, joking with the audience and making fun of each other, and their live sound was particularly clear tonight.

Chicago dream-pop act Panda Riot performed next, having some initial troubles with unintended feedback, and played a set of lovely, if somewhat sedate, songs with a lightshow behind them.  There are several unusual things about the quartet, most notably the lack of a live drummer and the presence of more than one female band member (you don't come across that too often outside of an all-girl group).  I felt their live performance this evening relied a bit too heavily on pre-recorded material (drum samples, extra vocal layers, orchestral instruments), although it probably recreated the sound on their album more accurately than they could have done without it.  They have a pretty, ambient sound, and are worth a listen if you enjoy that sort of thing.

The headlining Secret Colours made this show their official record release (read a review of the album here), and put on a really good show by anyone's standards.  Their blend of psychedelic garage pop translates well live, and it was clear they were having a great time playing it.  Their performance was imbued with all the confidence and swagger of youth, fully aware that they look and sound good onstage.  The band was joined onstage at this show by a dancer (who also appeared on the band's album cover), which normally isn't the sort of thing I go for, but this particular dancer knew what she was doing and enhanced, rather than distracted from, the band's performance.  The energy in the room was up, and the band played a solid set that included songs off their recent full-length debut, their recently released cover of The Beatles trippy classic "Tomorrow Never Knows" (available for free download here), and new material. It's really exciting to hear this band already rolling out more new material, and I can't wait to hear what they come up with next.

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