Luna Abandons ‘Penthouse’ For Stage

Though frontman Dean Wareham’s deadpan delivery and perpetual straight face were little indication, Luna’s shimmering guitar pop shone brilliantly Saturday night, illuminating the bleak and twisted landscape Wareham navigates with such svelte.

Waking their latest triumph, Penthouse, from its mordant and mellow foundation, Wareham and Sean Eden’s wall of swirling, simmering guitars blared a full-tilt, cosmic radio clamor. Stomping through a transcendent set that included all of Penthouse’s ten tracks, former-Feelie Stanley Demenski pounded an unwaveringly ferocious backbeat, bolstered by ex-Chills Justin Harwood’s bone-rattling and dexterous bass rumbling.

Eden’s bent hooks on “Sideshow by the Seashore” and “Chinatown” rollicked with a vaguely Eastern flavor, twisting and ebbing within the band’s trance-inducing extended jams. Noodling ceaselessly on the frettboard, Wareham too charged “23 Minutes in Brussels” and “Lost in Space” with spooky, atmospheric electricity. Though the band deftly employed a throbbing, swelling formula, lifting and dropping the gaping audience in finely hewn increments, they did so with a studied, emphatic precision.

By the time the straight-ahead noise-pop of “Hedgehog” rolled around, Wareham and company were fully revved — and so were the throngs — the former Galaxy 500 singer hollering grimly over the din, “I don’t know what you’re saying, but I hate it anyway.” Having peaked with Televisionesque crunch, Luna then began the descent, traipsing like automatons through “Tigerlilly” from 1993’s Bewitched before closing with the Velvety exploration of “Freakin’ and Peakin’.” Encoring with a sedated “Kalamazoo,” Wareham and Eden conspired to a hurricane rush of guitar wailing before calling it quits — Wareham finally cracking a smile — with the droning and dreamy run of Beat Happening’s “Indian Summer.”

Openers Liquorice ushered in the evening with a fitful set of tempo-jarring alternapop from their 4AD debut, Listening Cap. Tsunami’s engagingly tough Jenny Toomey warbled and swayed, chained to her mic and guitar, while guitarist Dan Littleton and drummer Trey Many plodded through the intricately time signatured “Drive Around,” “Keeping the Weekend Free” and “No Excuses.” Suffering through an inordinately chatty and impatient audience with style, Toomey punched up “Bates Stamper”‘s venomous “Slide the fuck away” refrain with victorious enthusiasm.

This review first appeared on Rolling Stone Online

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