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Psychic Ills, Liila, the Andrew Collberg Band at Solar Culture Gallery, Saturday, Feb. 23

Let me just get this out of the way: I love seeing shows at Solar Culture.

There's something about the little arts space on Toole Avenue that jibes me the right way, and makes me look at bands in a whole new light. Maybe it's the train that's spitting distance from behind the stage and often contributes its shrieking horn and roar to the din inside, or maybe I'm just breathing in primo paint fumes from all the killer art adorning the walls. I've seen great shows here, including this triple-bill last Saturday.

The Andrew Collberg Band was a last-minute addition, and we should all thank the heavens for that. Playing first, the five-piece band played bouncy cocktail-lounge pop songs with a hint of menace behind the smiles. All praise be unto Connor Gallaher, the lead guitar player who bears a striking resemblance to Keith Gordon in Jaws 2. His searing leads are in large part responsible for the drama lurking underneath Collberg's pop sensibilities. Pack your bags, Jeff Tweedy, your schtick is tired and we have new recruits.

Thankfully it was a Gallaher twofer this night; he's also on guitar duty in Liila, the latest project from Gallaher and bassist/vocalist Louise Le Hir. A trio leaning towards the noisier side of things, Liila aren't afraid to let feedback infect their shimmering songs. Le Hir is striking. She might look like a missing B-52, but she sounds like a back-alley Linda Thompson. It's a seductive sound, and the one number Le Hir sang in French captivated the small, engaged gathering.

It makes sense that the Psychic Ills, a five-piece psychedelic band from New York, would use sticks of Nag Champa as a timer. Hanging off the edge of the keyboard player's Farfisa, two sticks of incense were lit right after each other, and when they were out -- Poof! The show was done. In between, and while I was choking on the scented smoke, the band played a set of sludgy, dark numbers off their new album, One Track Mind. Using loops, low-key vocals and minimal lighting, Psychic Ills played as if conducting a séance. Songs like "Meta" and "Tried to Find It" were awash with reverb and slowly drawled-out lyrics, while the band swayed listlessly. Let's get to the point: This is music for taking drugs. If you're not high, you're probably missing out. Thankfully there's always the paint fumes.

More by Casey Dewey

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