Thank God for South by Southwest. Not only does it turn Austin, Texas, into a madhouse of bands, venues, and performances, but the festival spills over into the rest of the nation, too, sending bands north, south, east, and west as long as they can tour through that liberal bubble in the middle of the Lone Star State. Such is the case with the Evangelicals (Norman, Okla.) and Headlights (Champaign, Ill.), who might not otherwise be springboarded through our own state. Headlights play light indie pop à la Andrew Bird with a vintage 1960s flair. If Headlights dress themselves up in feel-good pop style (in their videos, they ride bikes and dance around floating tulips), their tour mates Evangelicals embody the oppositea darker act of psychosis and paranoia. Evangelicals compact pop songs are stacked high with swirling tornadoes of noise, bursts of 50s space-movie sound effects, and amped-up yet lo-fi production. The band does anything but hold back, creating emotionally charged songs that strike an inevitable comparison to another Oklahoma band: the Flaming Lips. Tonights gig is the next best thing to discovering your new favorite bands at SXSW, but in the comfort of home.
Sun., March 23, 8 p.m., 2008