Pop Music : Birdland Plays at Punk but Carnival Art Scores

You gotta give Birdland a point or two for its visual concept: four guys all looking like Brian Jones circa '65--blond bowl-cuts, bored expressions and all. They'd have looked great on the old "Shindig" or "Hullaballoo" TV shows.

On Friday at Bogart's in Long Beach, the Birmingham, England, band's look almost seemed an artistic triumph compared to the musical concept: your basic parade of Pistols-Psychedelic Furs-Patti Smith styles circa '79. Pure punk for then-people.

For now people, it was quite silly. The faux-punk antics looked straight out of vintage films, with much bouncing and pouting from singer Robert Vincent and his guitarist brother Lee, and Lee even taking a swing at a fan with his guitar during the first song.

Most telling was the group's encore version of a classic Smith song about rock outcasts. After the phrase "outside of society," Robert left out the key words "is where I want to be." Which tells me they're just play-acting at being punks. Which tells me there's no reason to bother with them.

Worth bothering with is the opening act, Carnival Art. Previewing its soon-to-be-released debut album, the Los Angeles quartet fronted by mercurial singer-songwriter Michael P. Tak offered a dynamic set more explosive than most college/alternative acts and more knowing than most metal. Birdland and Carnival Art play Tuesday at the Roxy, while Carnival Art headlines a free show at Club Lingerie on July 8.

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