Music : Current choice 

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Space commandos

To accuse the Phenomenauts of gimmickry would be like accusing Dirk Nowitzki of having big teeth. It’s a fact so self-evident that making the point amounts to a colossal waste of breath.

The Bay Area quintet’s gimmick — that these guys are not Oakland working stiffs, but mutant beings from another planet — isn’t even a particularly fresh one, given that it borrows at least partly from the likes of Man or Astroman?, Devo, early David Bowie, and everyone’s favorite ’70s Beatles-reunion hoax, Klaatu. Ultimately, the Phenomenauts wouldn’t be worth discussing if they were not a first-rate rock band, an ensemble which deftly combines rockabilly, power-pop, and punk into a kind of intergalactic new-wave they’ve dubbed “rocket roll.” For example, on “Neptune City,” one of their most infectious tracks, they lampoon every rock ’n’ roll city song, with a melody that recalls the best of ’50s rock and a rhythmic drive that’s undeniably post-punk. And they’ll even incite you to sing along, against your better judgment, with a song entitled “I Am Robot.”



the Phenomenauts

7pm
Thu, May 25

White Rabbit
2410 N. St. Mary’s
737-2221


Fronted by Corporal Joe Bot, with Commander Angel Nova on guitar, Captain Chreehos on bass, Major Jimmy Boom on drums, and Professor Greg Arius on keyboards, the Phenomenauts built a regional following by going commando on arena-rock crowds: setting up outside large venues and playing fast, spirited sets. It’s a space-guerrilla mentality that infuses all their performances, and makes them them one of indie-rock’s most likable gimmicks.

- Gilbert Garcia


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