The Panthers

With TV on the Radio, the New Wave, and Skeletons. Saturday, March 27, at the Grog Shop.

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Screw MPAA warnings: What CDs and other soon-to-be obsolete means of audio media should come stickered with is a pretension rating. It could be color-coded, like the Terror Alert System -- green for albums with all the intellectual appeal of a Junior Mint; red for Einsturzende Neubaten. People generally know how much pretense they like in their music. It could work.

Of course, where the Pretension Alert System gets complicated is when you're dealing with bands that manage to undermine their own pseudo- or genuinely intellectual leanings by means of something else in their music. The Panthers may go only as high as orange, even though frontman Jayson Green didn't leave off referencing Marcuse when his old outfit, Orchid, dissolved. It's not clear when punk stopped being a vehicle for Ramones-style anarcho-stupidity (and in some scenes, it still is), but the Panthers follow the tradition of smarting up the lyrics while leaving the music's id appeal intact. And like debut-era Liars and fellow Brooklynites Radio 4, the Panthers' live shows go for the gut, not the head, throwing all manner of wired energy into the pit, where people ought to be moshing. If they're not -- if they're nodding their heads and thinking about Jean Genet -- that's the audience's fault.

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