Raveonettes dazzle First Avenue

The Raveonettes' show at First Ave Monday night was as much a matter
 of visual aesthetic as it was the band's signature brand of noise
-pop. Black hair tousled and his guitar slung carelessly over his
shoulder, Sune Rose Wagner wore a black and white striped t-shirt as he
spun his one-note leads. Alongside, snow-white blonde Sharin Foo stood
regally in black and cooed her twisted love songs.

It was an assured, well-practiced performance by a pair who exuded a cool
femininity, the two cutting dark silhouettes as the stage lights washed
them out in reds and blues and exploded into white strobes when the
band unleashed its frequent flurries of distortion. Combined with the
music's shifting loud-soft dynamics -- alternating between soft, sugary
 melodies and piercing feedback sirens -- it made for an all together
 thrilling show.

There isn't anything particularly complicated about the Raveonettes' music. Headed by the Danish duo of Wagner and Foo, the group relies on a simple formula of '50s and early '60s rock and roll bathed in shoegazing guitar squalls. The set list at First Avenue offered ample evidence, consisting largely of songs from their two most recent albums, 2007's Lust, Lust, Lust and this year's In and Out of Control. "Heart of Stone" opened the show, its pinprick shuffle and whispy harmonies segueing into the ethereal tremors of "Hallucinations," which gave way to "Dead Sound's" slashing verses and glockenspiel-rung choruses.

The Raveonettes attract inevitable and endless comparisons to the Jesus and Mary Chain, but the band is more concerned with subverting the Phil Spector records they so clearly admire than they are existential auteurs, a trait they in some ways share with the Ramones.

A prime example of how the Raveonettes can make such revisions came last night with "Oh, I Buried You."  Featuring Foo alone on her guitar, "Buried's" gently swaying waltz and saccharine singing evoked the innocence of an early '60s girl group, but the lyrics were full of confusion, heartache, and feelings of betrayal.  On "Boys Who Rape (Should All Be Destroyed)," those sentiments turned to outright hostility, with Wagner's buzzsaw surf guitar providing the perfect foil to the sing along vocals.

"Aly, Walk with Me," the most complete example of the Raveonettes' musical vision and the best song they've written, was the last one they played Monday before the encore.  Cloaked in mysterious undertones, it simultaneously suggests the infatuation of a new love and the tension of an impending breakup. Driven by an ominous bassline and stomping drums, "Aly" marched along confidently, Foo running her hands over her pickups as the song climaxed into a wailing flash of white light.


For an encore, the Raveonettes played "Last Dance," before being joined onstage by opening act the Black Angels for a rendition of "Beat City" from the Whip It On EP.