The Bicycles Rock Rancho

The Bicycles
Rancho Relaxo
March 4, 2005
The Bicycles began setting up the stage for their performance at Rancho Relaxo as part of CMW, but it wasn't instruments they were hauling. Suddenly, over-sized cut-outs of the band happily haunted the perimeters of the tiny Rancho stage and you kind of got the feeling that an ambush was on the horizon.
Scheduled to play a night billed by CMW as "Rock Pop Brit," The Bicycles found themselves third up on what may have been the festival's most bizarre grouping. Following performances by 17-year old wunderkind, Hill, and raspy, countrified songstress, Jeen O'Brien, I wasn't quite sure how The Bicycles were going to fit into the scheme. But as they began their super-sugar-pop set, the puzzle made sense: these three bands share a similar taste for tightly-focused pop-songs. Only, The Bicycles do it differentlyÖ

Bicycle Matt Beckett is ushered into the first song by his fellow foot-mobiles; Dana Snell's airy drums and a happy instrumental backing paints a world where even inanimate objects bop along with a smile. But there's a nudge-nudge, wink-wink as Beckett sings about more than just la-la-love. The combination of sugar-pop with dirty-ish lyrics about romanticizing crushes, Paris' famed Moulin women and yearning for the hedonistic delights waiting beyond the practice room, sounds like a salute to earlier artists from the 70s whose listener-friendly sound might easily bypass certain fans who would otherwise disagree with the message. Beckett's vocals are at once syrupy and sultry, like a long-stemmed maraschino cherry topping off a tasty ice cream sundae. Reminiscent of the slithering and sexy vox of the late Marc Bolan, the lead Bicycle has a peculiar interpolating presence, even as he kneels at his keyboard and twinkles out an accompanying melody, seemingly oblivious to the outside world. The frequent trumpeting-sounds of Andrew Scott (not that Andrew Scott) certainly pack the Brit into the Pop, but to a degree where I'm sure everyone would concur that the songs need it. The highlight of their performance was having drummer Dana Snell co-singing a song with Andrew Scott, proving that even within a tight pop-formula there is certainly room for this band to cycle around.

Writer: Irene Angelopoulos

Photo:Irene Angelopoulos

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