September 15th, 2011 | WEEKEND

Elm City PopFest kicks off at BAR with a bang

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Photo by Chantel Simpson.

Disco balls in flight. A storm of traveling orbs of light swoosh across the walls and floor. Red light beams from the exit door. Empty glasses stacked on empty tables. Two men leering, a couple kissing at the bar. Such was the scene at BAR when the first band, Ghost of Chance, began to play last night, marking the start of the Elm City PopFest.

The band of four engulfed the room with the sound of wind, slowly transitioning into more familiar instrumental rhythms. It was an exciting start that quickly died once the music reached its full capacity of sound — so loud that it was hard to differentiate between each instrument in a disorienting clash of noise.

Yet the high-pitched howl of the lead singer’s voice prevailed, singing a sad, sulky 90s garage rock — the kind that ordinary men in a band in their late 20s/early 30s would attach to. Each quarter of the group even had that sad look of a lost generation, as if trying to hold on to their teenage dreams.

Reading Rainbows, a hip(-per) band of two guys plus one girl on drums, jumped into their set with synchronized drums and bass broken continuously by a riveting drumbeat. The voices of the lead guitar and the drummer melded together magnificently, supplying the high energy and playfulness of their performance. Everyone was moving, some simply bobbing their head, others swaying so much that beer spilled over the brim of their glasses.

The night ended with Eternal Summers. The leading lady’s seductively dreamy vocals fought over the fast-paced chaos that was the rest of the band. At times, they sounded dark and surreal, and at others they gave off a more summery, surf-rock feel. Whatever direction they took, though, my feet would spontaneously start tapping. It was a good night.

The Elm City PopFest runs through Saturday, Sep. 17. Stay tuned for more WEEKEND rundowns.