A puff of fog, a jolt of strobe, a cartoon drawing of a cow, and the Inspiral Carpets lurched onto the Roxy stage Thursday, the second emissary of the week from the seething club scene of Manchester, England.
The Carpets is pretty much officially Manchester’s third-best new band, after the Stone Roses and Happy Mondays, ahead of 808 State. But the band looked and sounded like it learned to play through repeated viewings of “Riot on Sunset Strip,” or maybe the Standells episode of “The Munsters.” Manchester’s supposed to be going through its belated Summer of Love, but this megadose of retro psychedelia was a bit too literal. People pogoed anyway.
Behind the quintet (most of whom sported bowl haircuts) flashed pulsing op-art patterns and fields of dots, the visual equivalent of the swirling Farfisa-like organ that dominated the mix. The songs seemed mostly in the grand tradition of recycled ‘60s punk, hooks and drones and grungy guitars and no solos--the sort of stuff that L.A. bands like the Droogs and the Tommyknockers have always done so well--though the Carpets sometimes leaned more toward Roxy Music-ish croon-fests or neo-Stranglers raves. The Roxy crowd was wildly enthusiastic, but it’s still too early to tell whether the Carpets will end up as the Byrds of the Manchester scene, or only the Chocolate Watch Band.