Early in Guadalcanal Diary’s show Saturday night at the Roxy, a wise-guy in the audience called out for an R.E.M. tune, thus underscoring the Diary’s biggest problem: the link with its fellow Georgians is so strong that even if the quartet had played a set of Peruvian harp music, some would have said it sounded like R.E.M.
Indeed, much of the impressive, if not always compelling, 100-minute show did resemble R.E.M.'s textural guitar-rock. But the Diary’s repertoire often moves well beyond those parameters. What unified the eclectic selections were the frequently-shifting dynamics, the visual kick of hyper-kinetic bassist Rhett Crowe and singer Murray Attaway’s sardonic humor.
More intriguing was the second-billed Balancing Act, a local, highly original acoustic folk-pop quartet that mixed quirky, whimsical and simply charming elements in ways that would make the group equally at home on a bill with the Roches or Jonathan Richman.