It was the battle of the European guitar bands Friday night at the Variety Arts Center, as headliners Chameleons U.K. and opening act the Mighty Lemon Drops each scored points in areas where the other was weak, without either leaving a knockout impression.

The Mighty Lemon Drops showed a smarter knack for pop songs in the classical style, but all delivered with an unfortunate reverb-drenched sameness. Chameleons U.K. delivered more musical dynamics--sometimes starting off songs slow and brooding and ending up fast and brooding--but little variance in actual mood.

That mood, of course, was angst : "When you think of it, we're all souls in isolation/I'm alive in here," repeated frontman Birdy to the fans flocking forward. Chameleons U.K. deserve some credit for having less of an "attitude" than their English gloom contemporaries--i.e., they don't dress all in black, and their stage manner is casual enough that they come off as regular Joes who just happen to favor minor chords. Emotionally, though, they could stand to be a lot more chameleonlike.

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