Sugar and Licorice

Two rambunctious guilty pleasures plead no contest

When music intelligentsia common knowledge (and there's a lot of it in this town) gets to the point that a darn catchy tune is derided out of hand, it's good to go for a swing with the kids. Case in point: this co-headlining party of hella-coppers. Sure, these two gal-led gumdroppers nick riffs like they're, well, going out of style (hey, desperate times call for desperate measures). But their pure pep—especially when tossed into a roomful of gussied-up fanatics—builds a swell sweaty bond.

Action Action opened with negative amounts of personality, the core of such funfests. They blew, but Morningwood fixed that with promises of blowing, and hay-romping, and partying, and if it's all sitcom rock, singer Chantal Claret is the real-ish deal. She can wail, genuinely gets lost in the lasers and licorice AC/DC send-ups, and when she started shoving the band members and screaming at the audience to "praise your mom's fucking vagina for getting you here," there's more than the pinch of abandon any good powerpop band needs to rise above the level of Go-Gurt commercial Day-Glo afterthought.

Even more laboratory-hatched than Morningwood—"Blondie meets the Hives!"—Sweden's Sounds started out humbled, but once the crowd stuck with them, the band loosened up, and a sugar balance was met. Singer Maja Ivarsson was more slink than slut but could rabble-rouse equal to Claret, especially when they went all Shampoo on "24 Hours" and the gonzo new single "Song With a Mission." By the end, they'd lit up cigs, the crowd felt naughty, and a big clump of kids went home a bit more irresponsible than when they arrived.

 
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