But the little girls understand

What is it about obsession? Lately, I’ve been thoroughly mesmerized by Samuel Barber’s 1939 Violin Concerto. I’ve been driving around like a complete geek, blasting orchestral music in the car.

This should not be happening. Must listen to more rock ’n’ roll. Must not listen to music with extra sprinkles.

Anyway, following an abbreviated romp through some art galleries Saturday night, I executed a swerve over to the Blue Lamp for a four-band lineup, hoping somebody might bring enough rock to wipe all the pretty violins from my brainpan.

Opening was the Midnight Academy (www.myspace.com/themidnightacademy), playing its debut show. While there was something slightly tentative about the quartet’s performance, singer Jason Mahon (from Seventh Standard) and company launched into a sweet set of melodic, guitar-based architecture rock as in latter-day U2, which sounded like the seeds of something great.

Up next came the Radio Life (www.myspace.com/theradiolife), which appeared to be a retooled version of Shortie. This time out, the band has opted for more of a hi-fash-fash dance-rock approach—think Spinal Tap does Duran Duran. I couldn’t tell if it was a prank or if they were serious, what with the singer’s banter about “taking it in the butt” and other telltale indicators of comic intent. Still, if in your first song, 1) your singer is exhorting the audience to “c’mon, put your hands together,” 2) your guitarist is standing on the bass drum, from which he, 3) attempts a solo with the guitar perched on his shoulder blades, you know you’re looking at either, a) comedy genius, or b) something the Ringling Bros. ought to put back in the cage with the rest of the monkeys. The set was energetic and the songs were entertaining, although the band members’ guitar-face mugging and posing got to be a bit much, even for parody. But the Radio Life did bring in the evening’s cutest contingent of dancing girls. Guess Howlin’ Wolf was right about them little girls understanding and all.

Third on the bill was Light Rail (www.myspace.com/lightrailmusic), which turned out to be like a blast of Marshall Tucker. The late promoter Bill Graham used to put shows like this together all the time, but contemporary audiences aren’t used to it, and it effectively cleared the room of many sweet young ladies. But singer Tyler Williams strummed his Taylor acoustic and, backed by a foursome that included Shane Kalbach on fiddle, sang country-style tunes about living and drinking. His mention of Jameson Irish Whiskey at one point got him not one but three double shots of the sweet poison served while he was onstage. His performance didn’t seem too marred by an oncoming buzz, though.

The Snobs (www.myspace.com/thesnobsrock) closed the show. Now, according to an informal poll at Old Ironsides one night among several bouncers, plus Art the bartender and promoter Jerry Perry, the Snobs draw the most fine-looking ladies into the nightclubs of all the bands in town. Singer Jason Boggs also plays the sax, which can be Andy MacKay cool or, um, Kenny G uncool, but he makes it work, and the band definitely brings the sexy with its loud guitar crunch. The music’s intensity frequently rolled over the crowd like a juggernaut. Occasional member Tim McCord guested on guitar.