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'Tucson's Best' Concert Series; Indie Rock Edition at Rialto Theatre, Sunday, May 12

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Tucson Rock Alliance and Miss CJ Promotions host genre showcases (past Best Concert Series have included alternative and ska/reggae) from time to time and the most recent concert was for local indie bands to present the goods. In this case, "indie" could be read as "nowhere else to go." The six acts that performed didn't share much common ground stylistically, but kudos to them, as they played with more exuberance than quite a few of Tucson's more celebrated groups who are too cool to have fun.

Lying on Concrete played a well-executed set that drew from mainstream pop-punk and guitar-lesson rock. The band was clearly having a great time, and much respect is due to bassist Kolya Ball, who soldiered on through half of the performance with a 3-string bass. The band's momentum sagged when their self-proclaimed "song for our generation" combined generic slogans and a tune that was close enough to Def Leppard's "Hysteria" to inspire a lawsuit.

Much of the audience left before Creating the Scene played, but the ones who stayed got an excellent whirlwind of showtunes sung by the charismatic Jake Walters, who won everyone over with his high-school-as-Broadway-musical passion.

I had seen Ocean Void before and was very impressed. This time, with a new singer and confidence for days, they brought down the house with their noisy blasts and palpable excitement. Ocean Void doesn't need a local showcase. They need to go on tour.

Dust and Rain followed with country-inflected soft rock, with the unquestionable highlight being the wonder-twin power of their singing siblings' lovely harmonies. Picture Glenn Frey's "You Belong to the City" played in church, and you'll get the idea.

Nostalgia surfaced with OrangeKids, who resemble The Get Up Kids with a ukulele. Their Achilles' heel was a preponderance of back-to-back plodding power ballads. If you take the "core" out of "emo-core," you don't end up with the prettiest of pictures. Actually, you end up with a picture that's a little too pretty even for this punk-influenced pop act.

Closing out the night was A.M. Eyes, pop-punkers who are significantly more established than the bands that preceded them. Their Sum 41-esque anthems didn't strike my fancy, but most of the audience had a great time, and that was really the only thing that mattered.

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