Andrew Collberg and Mimicking Birds, Plush, March 10 

A last minute transportation issue resulted in scheduled headliners The Parson Red Heads being stranded in Los Angeles, unable to perform in Tucson. On a personal level I feel bad for the Portland, Ore., rock band but I'd be lying if I implied that Mimicking Birds' (also from Portland) and Tucson's Andrew Collberg's outstanding respective performances left anything to be desired.

Mimicking Birds' sound is derived from the same wellspring of late '90s acts like Modest Mouse (at their most gentle) or Death Cab For Cutie that defined indie rock in between the lo-fi era of Pavement and Sebadoh, and The White Stripes' revitalized garage rock at the turn of the century. Mimicking Birds is a trio of bass, drums, acoustic guitar, and a fragile wisp of a voice, augmented by various electronic treatments. Unlike Modest Mouse, singer Nate Lacy has none of Isaac Brock's malevolence or contempt coloring his sighing delivery. But Mimicking Birds still recalled the skittering, idiosyncratic rhythms and expansive passages inherent in their predecessors' early work with another crucial difference: The blissful evocations were grounded in being present for real life experiences, rather than an attempt to escape overwhelming alienation. Mimicking Birds' sensual quiet storm added up to a kind of negative image (no pun intended) of soul music.

As of late, Andrew Collberg has been experimenting with the presentation of his expertly written songs, setting them in aggressive and noisy arrangements. It's a great idea and an even greater sound. Collberg sang and played the drums with accompaniment from Sean Rogers, Ryen Eggleston, and the increasingly ubiquitous guitar genius Connor Gallaher. Collberg's voice is a remarkably versatile and soulful instrument, and in tandem with the band's fuzz- and reverb-drenched guitars produced a roar approximating what The Velvet Underground's White Light/White Heat may have sounded like had it been recorded by Tommy James and the Shondells. And frankly, I can't think of anything much better than that. The first half of the set featured songs equal to the primal, funky racket found in the most enduring rock 'n' roll, abrasive guitars simulating Memphis Soul horn lines, and Collberg's incredible singing. The material that concluded the performance was slightly less visceral and more conventional (if the use of cymbals and major keys equals conventional), but no less gripping. Keep your eyes and ears on Andrew Collberg.

More by Joshua Levine

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