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Synths and Hippies Coexist Peacefully at the Metro Gallery

December 10, 2009

Jumpcuts | Image by City Paper Digi-Cam

For bands that combine rock with electronic music, live performance is usually a hurdle; no matter how well produced or immaculately programmed the recordings are, they rarely know how to actually rock out on stage. For better or worse, the opposite is true with the recently formed Baltimore band Jumpcuts. Their three-song demo sounds somewhat timid and tentative, driven by drum machines and synths. But live, the band’s live lineup sounded full-bodied and confident, as a trio with two keyboard players and one great drummer that put a little more power behind the arpeggiated grooves. Frontman Andy Shankman’s vocals were sometimes repetitive and too low in the mix, but it all worked well within the context of the band’s brooding synth rock aesthetic.

The Jumpcuts were kind of the odd band out for Tuesday night’s bill, which also featured two much more traditional guitar bands. The local duo Mother Nature’s Son worked a spare White Stripes-style guitar and drums format, and rocked hard with a few original songs, including a catchy hometown ode called “Baltimore O Baltimore.” But the cover of Beck’s “Devil’s Haircut” that the band opened their set with was such an embarrassingly dorky choice that it almost circled back around to being kind of cool, but not quite. And the Philly band that closed out the night, Free Energy, just took the hippie vibe of the night a little too far, signaling that it was time to head home.