Happy haze: Three bands and surprises all around

All of 15, Retisonic, and Bishop Allen
at Tokyo Rose
November 20

The basement of Tokyo Rose, that blood-colored musical refuge from the cares of modern life, was fairly well stocked Thursday night with various hip indie-rock types– even at 10:30, the official start time of most subterranean shows there.

All of 15 was first up, and though I've seen the band's name around town for a number of years– and written up their show listings in this very publication– before Thursday, I'd never seen or heard their stuff. The idea I had in my head from the band's name– which was something along the lines of quite noisy hardcore– proved to be incorrect, and instead I was treated to a set of well-written indie-pop/rock numbers.

None of the band's members really had that rock star look, though their singer- guitarist did have the requisite skinniness needed to make it big in the business. They have some solid material.

Composed of the aforementioned singer-guitarist, an excited bassist (he seemed to really get into the music) who also provided harmony vocals, and a capped drummer, the group shied away from long instrumental solos, replacing guitar hysteria with picking, but hardly leaving a break in their verse/chorus-repeat structures for anything but melodic vocalizations.

Retisonic was up next, performing at "the second show of a two show tour" from their home-town of New York City. Looking like you'd expect a punk-edged pop/rock band to look (tight t-shirts, cool, etc.), the group also had all the stage-components you look for when deciding where to sink your allowance money-­ kicks, jumping, guitar whipping, and scaling amplifiers all signified that what you were looking at was a band, not just a group of art students.

Oh, lest I forget, the music was fine too, an exuberantly steller example of the genre. The most interesting thing was their penchant for sabotaging their impending big op hooks by choosing off-kilter chord changes-­ this endeared the group to me more than anything else about them, actually.

Bishop Allen, the evening's headliners, took the stage next– their third appearance at the Rose, by my reckoning. Though their debut album was recorded by the four members who graced the stage for performance #1, by performance #2 the band had begun its member shake-up, and Thursday night saw only one half of the band's original four making their triumphant return.

Composed of two guitarist-singers, who more or less front the group (the two remaining original members), a bassist, and a drummer, Bishop Allen play a kind of jangly pop-heavy indie-rock the kids seem to like these days. The fact that the group has, for the most part, two singers, allows for added vocal complexity, something Bishop Allen seems to relish. The two gentlemen's complementary outfits for the evening– one wore a blue sweater with a red collared shirt, the other a red sweater with a blue collared shirt– added extra hilarity to the duo's penchant for calling and answering each other, and with the audience's beaming approval, the show went by in a haze of good feelings and pop.

Bishop Allen