Pop Reviews : S.F. Rockers Vain Get L.A. Inspection

San Francisco-based Vain played to a skeptical crowd at the Palace on Friday: A good portion of the attendees were aspiring L.A. musicians who were wondering why this particular group of long-haired pop-rockers managed to land an Island Records deal. Judging from the lackluster response, they weren't thrilled with what they saw.

But although many of Vain's mid-tempo songs passed by unnoticed, the quintet did come up with a hummable little pop ditty or two, like "Who's Watching You" and "Beat the Bullet." And the group's solid musicianship is bound to stand out next to most of the Poison wannabes. Singer Davy Vain, with his bare chest and hip-hugging, peek-a-boo leather pants, tried to push sex, but his high-high-high voice was his true selling point. He concentrated on giving expression to the words rather than just letting go with wild screams. Guitarists James Scott and Danny West followed suit and layered their flashy licks with a melodic touch.

There was no doubt as to why opener Kik Tracee was recently signed to RCA. Its snappy blend of rock and funk, and the gripping presence of singer Stephen Shareaux, offer something different from the usual three-chord L.A. bands.

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