Pop Matters
October 23, 2003
Devon Powers

It's 10:15pm, the venue is already behind schedule with the showcase, and nobody cares. Instead, more and more bodies cram their way into downtown venue Don Hill's, to catch a glimpse of the buzz-worthy wunderkinds playing the ASCAP showcase tonight: the Killers, Menlo Park, and the Prosaics. All of these bands have yet to sign deals in the United States, and the excitement surrounding each, though different, is overt.

The Killers from Las Vegas, are the first of the three to take the stage, and they've accrued a gaggle of screaming retro girls at the stage's edge, who are snapping pictures and screaming like cheetahs at the four boys before them. And why not? They've certainly all the visual trappings of the bands that charm the downtown set. Mark Stoermer is the sallow-cheeked, uber-serious bassist, tall and Nordic-ly handsome; Dave Keuning has a nebulous oversized and somewhat effete mop/fro, the kind rendered noveau chic by members of the Rapture and Longwave; Ronnie Vannucci, on drums, is puppy dog adorable and just as yappy; and lead singer/keyboardist Brandon Flowers is a sharp dressed man, a compact lightning rod of sensual affectation. And when they play, these elements jive together to render a sound New Romantic meets funk, a .supercharged, almost macho new wave that's as sleazy as the Vegas Strip. And this is a band that knows they've got it, and flaunts it. Flowers is all over the stage, posing for the howling, dancing, throbbing masses of us, barking out the often sex-charged lyrics ("you've got a real short skirt/ I wanna look up" he sings at one point). Keuning and Stoermer are not as physical but are no less intense, keeping the pace up with expertise. Vannucci is one of the few drummers I've seen who spends more time off his ass than on it; at the end of the show, he dramatically stands on top of his bass drum and hammers the shit out of the crash cymbals. As my first introduction into the official CMJ, I couldn't be more thrilled with my choice. Ladies and gents, this band will go places, and you would be smart to watch