The Circle Bar

August 26, 2004

Remember the small people from The Lollipop Guild in The Wizard of Oz? What would they dance to? If The Beatles had taken a few more hallucinogens during their Sgt. Pepper's and Magical Mystery period, what would they have sounded like? On both accounts, probably a little like the whimsical, glee Pop played by Bipolaroid at The Circle Bar Thursday night.

The last time I saw Bipolaroid was about two years ago at the same venue. I sat at the bar, and I let myself get taken in by their subtle wave of psychedelic Rock.

There was less subtlety last night. The quintet of two guitars, bass, drums, and synthesizer led by vocalist/guitarist Ben Glover was straight-up loud. They rocked. This time around it took a knock over the head instead of a leading haze to get me into their headspace. A lot has happened in the last two years to foster a change in their sound. I point a finger at the release of their first album, the departure of band everyman Ben Sumner, and new members.

There were a few things during the first half of the concert that kept me from getting into the music. Glover's dreamy English-accented(he's American) mumblings went well with the music, but his nihilistic approach annoyed me. Also, Glover didn't start stomping and flailing until later in the set. Most of the time, he and his bandmates stood like stones. They needed to get into the music from the get-go to release a little of the pretension out of the room and make the audience more comfortable.

Shoegazing effects-laden meanderings, guitar loops and some spacey artistry made them enjoyable. During the last few minutes of one song, Bipolaroid built so much sound upon sound in such an inconspicuous way that when silence enveloped the bar after the song, I thought, "They were playing all that?"

All in all, I was satisfied by the music when I left The Circle Bar. The music eventually got to me. I know why. Though people love to talk about how the band is so derivative of late '60's psych rock, Glover simply writes good pop songs. I liked "The Looking Glass."

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