WEEKEND | 5:09 pm | September 16, 2011 | By Chantel Simpson

Elm City PopFest Day 2: Rocking Popeye’s

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Photo by Chantel Simpson.

Inside a venue in an alley by Popeye’s is a room with cement walls and a ceiling that looks on the verge of falling in; a few thirty-somethings are scattered around in groups, chatting and guzzling beer. Before us, past a collapsed wall whose edges jut out like Tetris pieces, is the stage. It’s adorned with a grotesque installation of filthy white pompoms. A single bright bulb on the floor illuminates the Elastic Nostalgia, the opening act of the second night of the Elm City PopFest.

I can’t help thinking the room is full of asbestos, but no one else seems concerned. They are drawn in by the wild energy of the band. The lead singer convulses, rolling his hips side to side, his flopping head engaged in a fight to the finish with the microphone. The bassist strums out chords in his own little world, but the drummer is likewise insane. Still the singer’s style — glasses with big frames, a fresh button down — evokes the geek rock of the early noughts.

Next up is EULA, and lead singer Alyse is howling. She’s … growling. She turns away from the crowd to face the drummer, banging her head to the beat. He smiles as her hair flies, and they feed off of each other. Eula is a loud mélange of punk, metal, and the spunk of the riot grrrl era. Still, somehow it’s a little too reserved.

The Field Recordings end the night. Their music has a light, cosmic, psychedelic quality. The sound seems to float on the air and blow softly into each ear. The room is suffused with the low mumble of the singer’s voice, something dreamlike.

Tonight was better than the last.

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