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The Living Blue, The Year Of Acceleration, Bombs For The Bored

Vaudeville Cabaret, Saturday, Feb. 4

Rock bands have a basic formula: guitar, drums, bass, vocals, verse, chorus, verse, maybe a solo, maybe some interesting bridge or something, rinse, repeat. The way different bands execute or mess with this recipe is what keeps things interesting. But if a band doesn't deviate, if they don't add a dash of spice here and a different ingredient there, then their music runs the risk of being bland.

Saturday's show at Vaudeville had, in Bombs for the Bored and The Living Blue, examples of interesting executions of the formula, but The Year of Acceleration was an example of what happens when you follow the directions too closely.

Energetic trio Bombs for the Bored opened the show with their catchy hooks and imaginative song structures. Guitarist/vocalist Noah Gabbard's vocals are sounding less like Conor Oberst's these days, and the stops and starts and volume shifts in each song mess deliciously with the rock formula. The Year of Acceleration played next, riding the recent wave of New Order and Joy Division homage bands. Every song was essentially the same: The guitar starts out on a few dramatic high notes, and then the chorus comes in. The song builds, recedes, and builds, and recedes. Rinse, repeat. Everything is drenched in chorus, distortion and/or reverb, including the vocals, and The Year has a lot of fun with their delay pedals, proving that, really, anyone can sound good with the right equipment.

The Living Blue, of Champaign, Ill., take the rock 'n' roll formula and make it run like a well-oiled machine that not only gets you from A to B but makes you waffles and does your taxes--practical, yet spontaneous. Unassuming and relaxed, the band went from tight riffs to loose freakouts and then back again within each song, despite some technical difficulties early in their set. Their skill in mediating these changes was impressive. Guitarist Joe Prokop moved all over the stage, and at times had both hands on the fretboard, making the guitar emit showers of sparks. Their rock 'n' roll recipe was a little too big for a small venue like Vaudeville, and it ended up sounding overly muddy--at times, it was hard to hear guitarist/vocalist Stephen Ucherek's vocals--but the songs off their 2005 Minty Fresh release, Fire, Blood, Water, still pulsed with '70s garage rock sultriness.

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