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Pop Music Review

Britain's Supergrass Balances Energy, Maturity

May 22, 2000|STEVE HOCHMAN | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Seeing English band Supergrass at the Viper Room on Saturday, it was hard not to think big. Here's a group with all the goods, having synthesized elements of such key Brit-pop antecedents as Small Faces, glam-era David Bowie, Roxy Music, the Jam and the Buzzcocks into a distinctive package that's more musically accomplished than contemporaries Oasis, more focused than Blur and more, well, fun than Radiohead. You almost wish they'd try something really ambitious--perhaps a rock opera. Kicking off a round of three Los Angeles club shows supporting its third album, "Supergrass," the band showed plenty of growth nonetheless. Saturday's set started with a recent rocking B side, "Sick," followed by a couple of thrashers from the 1995 debut album, "I Should Coco," which showed off the crisp garage-punk side of Gaz Coombes' guitar and elastic voice, Mick Quinn's rumbling bass and Danny Goffey's Keith Moon-inspired drumming. The band moved to newer material, adding prominent keyboards (from Coombes' brother Robert) and more sophistication in melody, structure and the wit and detail of Gaz Coombes' character and scene sketches. Throughout the show the band was able to balance the two sides--youthful energy and maturing talents--with no loss of either. It was plenty enjoyable for what it was, but still it seemed like just a bunch of songs from an act capable of making something more of it. Of course, considering how many of Supergrass' old role models stumbled when their ambitions got bloated, maybe we should just be happy with what we've got.

Supergrass plays tonight at 8 at the Roxy, 9009 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood. (310) 278-9457. Also Tuesday at 8 p.m. at the Troubadour, 9081 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood. (310) 276-6168. Both shows sold out.

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