Whoever told you that the post-punk revival is on the wane was wrong. A week ago Wednesday, 6000 people packed Lansdowne Street for the annual Phoenix/WFNX Best Music Poll party, which was dominated by bands with a predilection for treble-spiked, delay-drenched guitars and up-tempo hi-hat-on-the-off-beat rhythms.
Drenched in late-afternoon sun, the Cinematics kicked things off on the outdoor stage at the east end of the street. The highlight of their crisp, Joy Divisiony set was an energetic reimagining of Beck’s Sea Change elegy, “Sunday Sun.” (The Glasgow foursome were scheduled to play at Avalon later in the night but got moved outside to fill the slot of Kings of Leon, who canceled last-minute because of singer Caleb Followill’s 103-degree fever.) Next up were Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, who served up an artier brand of post-punk, peppering songs about ice and heavy metal with squalls of guitar and synth noise.
Outdoor headliners Bloc Party played to a by-now jammed street. Frontman Kele Okereke — dressed in a white T-shirt emblazoned with BRING BACK GOD in big black block letters — and his mates tore through a long set of big, propulsive, ’80s-flavored rock. “This is about the closest we’ll get to playing in a baseball stadium,” joked drummer Matt Tong as he looked up at Fenway Park.
Then it was time to move indoors. At Avalon, local metal faves Bang Camaro crowded the stage with their 15-member cock-rock choir — a mess of head banging, fist pumping, air-guitaring, and beer swilling. I left just as the “Push Push (Lady Lightning)” guitar solo — the one that always kills me on Guitar Hero expert mode — kicked in, making it to Axis in time to catch local five-piece Girls Guns & Glory’s final song, a raucous country-rock rave-up driven by frontman Ward Hayden’s acoustic guitar and shirtless percussionist Brendan Murphy’s congas. At Bill’s Bar, another local band, World’s Greatest Sinners, were bringing the soul — hard — with singers Jordan Valentine and Georgia Young wailing in harmony as if their lives depended on it.
At Axis, Silversun Pickups frontman Brian Aubert channeled Billy Corgan, alternating between blissfully overwhelming guitar noise and impossibly catchy melodies. Over at Avalon, the Bravery kept with the night’s dance-rock theme, offering a new song — “so new it’s not even on our new record” — called “The Dandy (Rock)” that was based on a nifty guitar arpeggio. At Bill’s, the fourth and final local band of the night, Bon Savants, were playing their last song; singer Thom Savant — looking like a cross between Beck and Britt Daniel in a snappy white suit — roamed through the crowd like a wayward lounge singer. I made it back to Axis in time to catch a rousing version of one of Silversun Pickups’ best songs, “Lazy Eye.” The crowd — still going strong after nearly eight hours of music, dancing, and drink — went apeshit.