If you closed your eyes during Idlewild’s set, it was possible to believe that you had moved a few miles west and 20 years into the past. The Glasgow quartet’s Los Angeles debut would have sounded right at home in the early ’80s appearing at the Whisky or Roxy instead of the Knitting Factory.
They even had Rodney Bingenheimer on hand to introduce the band. Idlewild’s American debut, “100 Broken Windows,” grafts the yearning melodies of early R.E.M. to the fuzzed out guitars favored by British post-punk bands such as Echo and the Bunnymen and Psychedelic Furs. It’s a pleasant enough hybrid — it certainly sounds better than just about anything on modern rock radio today — but the whole doesn’t equal the sum of its parts. The band’s influences are undigested, and the combination of sounds is not especially compelling or illuminating.
On stage, what Idlewild lacks in originality it makes up in energy.
Bouncing around the stage, with guitars blaring and singer Roddy Woomble’s amiable presence, Idlewild’s 40-minute set is diverting, but nothing about the band’s show dispels the notion that they are re-plowing familiar ground.
Co-headliner Brassy also wears its influences on its sleeve, but the Manchester-by-way-of-New-York band manages to create something new and exciting.
Led by Muffin Spencer (sister of Blues Explosion frontman Jon Spencer), Brassy’s angular, abrasive sound finds its most obvious antecedents in arty, No Wave bands such as the Contortions, Bush Tetras and ESG. But it sifts them through the filter of old-school hip-hop and DJ culture and arrive at a sound that surprises with its passionate, bare-boned funkiness.