Cheswick were a mostly enjoyable, anthemish, emo outfit who showed they knew how to navigate around a complex melody or three. These kids do like it loud, though, a bad habit that frequently buried their vocals. Emo is really getting stale these days (it's official—there are more emo bands today than there were ska bands when ska peaked, circa 1995-96), yet Cheswick seemed to be searching for a fresher approach, something more commercial-sounding, like A New Found Glory. Maybe they'll find it, too.

We last saw Stairwell almost two years ago, and a quick scan of our copious notes indicates we liked them. What the hell happened? Or maybe the better question is, What the hell were we thinking? We could live with the four guitars (including bass) this five-piece brandished, but what we weren't prepared for was the festive guitar choreography. On their first tune, the four axe-wavers were all jerking the necks of their instruments around in perfect, synchronized patterns—just like in a bad '80s metal video, only without the poodle haircuts. This was laughably cute at first, but they just kept right on doing it and looked quite serious about it, too, which turned their set into full-on standup comedy. They dug their grave even deeper when they all began bobbing their heads—with military-like precision!—along to their rather tame, emo-by-numbers tunes. Yow! Here's a band that needs to go buy a copy of The Eternally Damnable Book of Inane Rock Clichés and memorize every last freaking word. Who would have thought that people would one day want to revive Warrant's old stage show? As for their music—well, we would have liked to have paid more attention, but it was just so hard to watch them through our tightly shuttered eyes, which had swelled shut from laughing so hard.

Sacramento's Electro Group were pretty dull, a throwback to that old, tired, shoegazer stuff, with heaps of humdrum hums, droney drones and tuneless tunes that went nowhere and seemed to serve no other purpose than to induce catatonia. But we confess: we caught only the last half of their set—we spent the first half in a backroom rolling on the floor, still laughing at Stairwell!

Perhaps the Electro Group should take lessons from the Lassie Foundation, who were once like them, wallowing in shoegazer past. These days, Lassie are in a more rock & roll vein, and they're better for it. They're less dream-pop-oriented and cheerier, pulling off stunts like tossing a happy-happy vibraphone and a woo-hoo-jiggle-jiggle tambourine lust feast into their sonic cocktail—ringing it with lush, creamy orchestrations that recall something Brian Wilson used to do—and topped it off with the boyishly high falsetto of their lanky front man. Woof! (Rich Kane)

Send tapes, CDs, show dates, whatever to Locals Only, OC Weekly, P.O. Box 10788, Costa Mesa, CA 92627.
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