Pumpin': Circulatory System run through the Rose

The Parlor Scouts, The Instruments, Pipes You See, Pipes You Don't, and Circulatory System
at Tokyo Rose
Saturday, April 26.

I missed the indie-rock barrage that is Circulatory System when they played Tokyo Rose last year, partly thanks to the band going on after 2am, and partly because of the whispered promises of my monogamous make-out partner of the time, but this year nothing was going to hold me back.

Saturday was the day of debauchery and sundresses known as Foxfield, but it was hard to say if any of the sizable (yet motley, extremely motley) crowd assembled in the basement of the Rose had participated in the event. Yeah, sure there were overly intoxicated souls at the show, but I know most of them, and they're always like that.

The Parlor Scouts took the number two position (True Love Always was on first, but I missed most of their set) and quickly left most of the audience in dumbfounded disbelief. The group had all the makings of a damn good (but ordinarily good) indie-rock act, but the added element that made the group so unbelievable was their 20-something vocalist arrayed in Mary Janes, tights, and a First-Communion dress.

Seemingly foreign (possibly French), the young lady pranced, slunk, and gestured from the stage– a commanding presence in a pixie cut– part Debby Harry, part Bjork, but mostly, to quote another, "a punk rock Betty Boop."

After setting up for what seemed like an hour, the first of two Circulatory System side projects took the stage. The Instruments played generally somber tunes on acoustic guitar, drums, keyboard, and clarinet, with vocals by Circulatory System bassist/cellist Heather McIntosh. The more straight-ahead band, Pipes You See, Pipes You Don't, was on next-­ this is the side project of Circulatory System's keyboardist, Peter Erchick, who played guitar, sang, and seemingly "just wanted to rock."

From the first few chords of Circulatory System it was plain to see why the group is called the main project rather than the side-­ they instantly drew the audience in with their huge complete sound and complicated yet catchy rock songs.

A little trading of instruments was required before CS could go on, most noticeably the removal of singer/guitarist Will Hart from behind the drum kit to take his place at the front of the stage, and the appearance of an additional two drummers, playing in unison.

Circulatory System blew my socks completely off, combining bombastic instrumental performances and solid songwriting with Hart's strong Jim Morrison-meets-J-Mascis (Dinosaur Jr) vocals. It was a fast-paced show where songs almost seemed to flow into each other, and you never wanted it to stop.

The show was worth every penny of the $7 admission price; all the groups were pretty great, although in the end it was definitely Circulatory System by a nose.