Best Concert
Mild-mannered orgy of splendidness 

The Pernice Brothers and the Heavenly States, Starry Plough

True awe-inspiring rock excellence seldom springs from the mouths of face-painted doofuses with smoke machines and Marshall stacks. Quiet-looking is the new loud. The Pernice Brothers, an East Coast crew of grad-student pop professors, looked like an out-of-shape Monday night softball team but proceeded to crank home run after home run with gloriously melancholy hooks and confident lyrical swagger until every car windshield within three blocks was smashed in. And for those hoping for an East Bay equivalent to such mastery, Oakland's own Heavenly States opened the show with much the same bait-and-switch technique. With their down-home alt.country looks, the States at first seemed like another Gram Parsons retread, but these tunes roared with slick melody wrapped up in apocalyptic fury, lovingly presented in a tiny club, which, at least on the night of July 5 last, held tunes powerful enough to load up amphitheaters.

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