To judge from its headlining set at Bill's Bar on Friday, hosted by WFNX 101.7's music show ''New England Product, the stars are aligning for local indie-rock quartet Aberdeen City. Attendance had waned by the time the band played at midnight, but the good-size crowd that remained was smitten with its taut, moody set.
Aberdeen City couldn't have chosen a better moment to coalesce than the eve of annual music-industry fest South by Southwest, which kicks off next month. Displaying the poise of veteran rockers, the band bashed out songs that balanced effusive pop melodies with dramatic rock 'n' roll. The no-nonsense 45-minute set showcased the dynamic between singer-bassist Brad Parker's expressive vocals and the melodic squall created by guitarists Chris McLaughlin and Ryan Heller, whose interplay provides much of the band's energy.
As Parker crooned over drummer Robert McCaffrey's driving beat during set opener ''Another Seven Years," McLaughlin paced the stage, windmilling his guitar, while Heller, exuding elegant cool, added U2-flavored filigrees. The band upped the drama during ''Pretty Pet," as McLaughlin threw down extra percussion over the song's stuttering beat.
The musicians stretched their range with a darker dance-rock track, ''This Is Our Problem Tonight," which got audience members moving. They blazed through their first single, ''God Is Going to Get Sick of Me," which epitomizes their sophisticated, heart-on-their-sleeve rock, before offering up a Beatles-inflected take on the Smiths' ''Death of a Disco Dancer." They closed, still deftly controlling the mood, with the high-stepping rocker ''Mercy," which erupted into a wild percussion-fest.
The local-rock night was launched by Beverly's The Living Sea, which played an uneven but kinetic Brit-pop-influenced set. The Russians opened with an inspired display of heartfelt, twangy rock carried on clever, gorgeous vocals by frontman Scott Janovitz (brother of Buffalo Tom's Bill Janovitz), who also plays organ with Jake Brennan & the Confidence Men.