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POP MUSIC REVIEW : Beehive, Petrol Invade Southland

What’s in a name?

In the case of the two U.K.-U.S.A. crossbreed bands working their way through the Southland this week, quite a bit.

Take the headliner’s odd name, That Petrol Emotion: self-consciously obscure . . . knotty . . . flat and inert . . . ultimately nonsensical.

Then consider the opener’s odd name, Voice of the Beehive: obscure, maybe, but also resonant and alive . . . a little mystical, a little funny . . . ultimately meaningful.

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That’s the way the music went Monday night at Bogart’s, where the second-billed Voice of the Beehive generated a giddy atmosphere that hung like a happy haze until That Petrol Emotion came along and wiped it out with its constricted clamor.

Sisters Tracy Bryn and Melissa Belland, who moved from Encino to England and formed the Beehive with three Englishmen, sported a motley, Melrose Avenue petticoats-and-stockings look and engineered a grimy, garage-band attack. With Bryn stomping around and chopping out the guitar chords and Belland swinging her huge single braid, the effect was a goofy melange of Cyndi Lauper, Bette Midler, Blondie, the Kinks and the Go-Go’s.

All the animation on the stage and the catchiness of the tunes tended to disguise the cynicism of Bryn’s lyrics, which bear the bruises of bitter experience with men given to abusing both body and soul. That made the joy radiated by these Valley girls and company all the more precious.

If ever a bill begged to be flip-flopped, this is it. The claustrophobic, oblique art-funk of That Petrol Emotion--an Irish band with an American singer that’s been laboring semi-underground for a few years and now has a dance-chart success with “Groove Check"--is no way to end a night that began on such an up note. See for yourself tonight at UC Santa Barbara and Thursday at the Palace.

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