Say Hi, the Velvet Teen, the A-Sides

Plush, Saturday, Oct. 20

Say Hi to Your Mom has simplified its moniker to just Say Hi. The shortened version has the same effect; it honors a naming convention, rooted in whimsy, via which a certain category of indie pop bands and fans find each other. Consider: What self-respecting thrash, blues or country band would call themselves Say Hi? Or Apples in Stereo, Dirty on Purpose, Oh No! Oh My! or even Death Cab for Cutie?

The indie pop sound is too rare in Tucson, with virtually no local bands playing anything much like it. (Luckily, we have Stars and Architecture in Helsinki to look forward to at the Rialto next month, but even they are playing on back-to-back nights.) So it was to a large and pop-starved crowd that The A-Sides and Say Hi delivered their goods around the edgier, noise-pop center of Santa Rosa, Calif.'s Velvet Teen. The latter brought a new lineup since its 2006 release, Cum Laude, and is just off tour with Ted Leo and the Pharmacists.

The bands are touring together behind a September release, Silver Storms, by Philadelphia's stellar The A-Sides, and in advance of a February 2008 release by Seattle's Say Hi. It's only October on my calendar, but that forthcoming album, The Wishes and the Glitch, was for sale at the merch table, signaling what may be the last coffin nail in music-release schedules as we know them. They've had no meaning, anyway, since bands began streaming their CDs in advance and releasing songs on the Internet whenever the spirit moves them.

Say Hi's set featured several songs from the new CD, but there were plenty from the band's previous releases to allow fans who knew them to sing along. The band's drummer literally drove home the importance of that instrument to the indie pop sound. He played enough for three, faster than a rumor and with immaculate timing. "Northwestern Girls" was a highlight from the new album; "Let's Talk About Spaceships" from 2003's Numbers and Mumbles was a crowd favorite; and, perhaps inspired by the proximity of Halloween, we were treated to "These Fangs," introduced as "a song about vampires" from Say Hi's 2006 Impeccable Blahs.

Impeccable? Yes. Blah? Far from it.

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