Like cheerleaders at an electro-punk pep rally, the San Francisco-based trio Numbers induced their fans to shake it zealously during a set of playfully cerebral indie dance music at the Matrix on Thursday night. Although the crowd was sparse, it was fervent in its attention to the directions of the art-house captains.
The band, which just released its third album ("In My Mind All the Time"), opened by clapping out a bright, steady beat before the members shouted out their names in the opening number, "We're Numbers." The energy remained taut as the band drove through its set, playing bursts of muddy Moog synthesizer against scratchy guitar riffs and trading off lyrics with staccato control in "Dance Attack."
Looking efficient and neat, the band members wore homemade T-shirts decorated with sparse geometric patterns; drummer Indra Dunis spit out her vocals with elegant cool while keeping a spare, brassy dance beat. The edgy songs were imbued with humor, and keyboardist Eric Landmark and guitarist Dave Broekema created complicated rhythmic patterns by playing the quirky, angular sounds of their instruments against each other.
Growls of Moog opened "Drunk With Pain," which Dunis sang with dramatic aloofness reminiscent of British art punks the Raincoats while Broekema threw down muscular guitar riffs between bursting drum beats, which shifted through the song with mathematical precision.
Throughout the night, the lyrics were sometimes difficult to understand, obscuring the societal commentary that the band mixes into its songs. But the lilting chorus of "Disease," sung over a steady beat and jerky guitar melody, addressed the theme of air pollution with edgy humor, particularly as Dunis ended the song with a resonant, hacking cough. The ironic, robotic vocals contrasted with the theme of longing and heartache over a low, basslike Moog rumble in "Waiting." The band closed with a rich, organlike wash of synthesizer on "Human Replace."
The electro-rock quartet the Chinese Stars, formed from the ashes of experimental art punks Arab on Radar, unleashed demons with their intense vocals and dramatic stage presence. The Montreal-based avant-garde electronica band Les Georges Leningrad channeled the dead, as singer Poney P assumed a somnambulist's gait in front of wooden trees while shouting antagonistic lyrics over manic keyboards and loose drums. And show opener Trin Tran, a multi-instrumentalist in a space-age helmet, seemed a medium for alien life with his humorous blend of surf rock and electro-weirdness.
With the Chinese Stars, Les Georges Leningrad, and Trin Tran
At: the Matrix, Thursday night