Local foursome Sun Bones is pretty hot right now. They have great songs and an interesting musical approach. They swap instruments, sing intricate vocal harmonies, and have a damn good drummer who happens to only play two drums and a couple of cymbals. So at first glance, their Talking Heads- and New Order-influenced new wave/funk sound is a pleasure. Or, rather, at first listen Sun Bones is extremely impressive. After a few songs, their obnoxious performance art antics derailed their appeal. The music is, unfortunately, overshadowed by Community College Drama 101 acting exercises delivered with a condescending smirk. On a song introduced as "what it's like to be on the road," two members jumped off the stage, stared at each other with a lack of conviction that makes The Rock look like Marlon Brando, and then did some Limp Bizkit-style "Break Stuff" moves when the song went from pseudo-whimsical to pseudo-aggressive. The guy playing the tambourine even put on gloves so as to not injure his precious hands.
Presentation is important, but judging from this performance, it's working against Sun Bones and, consequently, they showed that the only road we're talking about here is the one to the frat party. By the end of the set, the band successfully acted out what would've happened had Vampire Weekend gone to the same college as the Bloodhound Gang.
Austin's Mother Falcon fared much better. This large band (I stopped counting members at around 12) might be most easily compared to the Arcade Fire, combining rock song structures with acoustic string and brass instruments, but that's just on the surface. They were exuberant while showing a great sense of restraint, and fun even in the most somber of their songs. One aspect of Mother Falcon's greatness was the way the players picked and plucked simple, repetitive phrases reaching a majestic plateau. And I haven't gotten around to mentioning the drummer, who's hard and Dr. Dre-worthy beats lifted all the disparate qualities inherent in the songs — smoky jazz, plaintive classical music, and forlorn vocals — into a very different kind of rock 'n' roll. The weakest song was the Radiohead cover, which says a lot more about Radiohead than it does about Mother Falcon, who gracefully re-imagined the genre, and had us twisting the night away to the sound of an accordion.