Headlights: Live Last Night

Live Last Night

Bands who rely on the dynamics of recording -- velvety echo, perfect silence, clean edges -- often fail as live acts because they get caught halfway between recreating their discs and kicking out their jams. There were no such quandaries for Headlights at Iota last night: The band plugged in, said hello and mashed the gas pedal, chucking the wispy pretties of their songs right out the window.

(Read the rest of the review after the jump.)

Keyed by the vocals of Erin Fein, the band's best work grabs a bit of the sweet-n-sour '60s pop of the Cardigans and drenches it with a poetic longing. During the 45-minute set, the Illinois quartet still echoed the former, but replaced the latter with an punky directness, turning songs such as "Market Girl" and "Your Old Street" into frisky workouts that their recorded versions only suggest.

Wisely, the band constantly highlighted its key musical tension -- the contrast between Fein's sugary vocals and keyboards and the sinewy guitar and leathery singing of Tristan Wraight. It worked best when the differences sounded the starkest and the music the roughest.

So, "Some Boys," which built to a cacophonous conclusion on pounding guitars and percussion, and a shout-along encore of "Lions" (which featured most of opening act Love Language) were the unquestionable highlights. One hopes Headlights bring some of that stage snarl along on their next visit to that clean, quiet recording space.


By J. Freedom du Lac |  April 22, 2009; 12:23 PM ET Live Last Night
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