LOS ANGELES -- In the middle of the electronic-pop group Buffalo Daughter's anthem "New Rock" (RealAudio excerpt), guitarist SuGar Yoshinaga and keyboardist/bassist Yumiko Ohno began to deliver the song's minimal vocal.
Slowly, the singers came together on an elevating "ahh," which, upon arriving at a certain pitch, was lost within a synthesizer's echoing loop.
It was Buffalo Daughter at their best. It was techno with a pop twist.
It was "New Rock."
Wearing their trademark white T-shirts that proclaim the words "NEW ROCK" in fluorescent colors, the Japanese trio made all the right sonic moves at their Hollywood Athletic Club show Wednesday night, opening for the newly techno-fied rockers Girls Against Boys.
Yoshinaga stepped back from the microphone and began nodding her dyed-blond head in an exaggerated fashion as she produced zoo-animal noises through her guitar. Also jolting her head in such a way that her short black hair splayed around her head, Ohno coaxed artsy, droning noises from the band's synthesizers.
As Buffalo Daughter played such New Rock cuts as the quasi-lullaby "Great Five Lakes" and the sonic dramatization "Super Blooper," the focus shifted back and forth between Yoshinaga and Ohno. With spoken-word samples and electronic effects floating through for added texture and drummer Moog holding down the beat in the back, the musical landscape Buffalo Daughter created was primarily one of electric guitar and synthesizer sharing space, and repeatedly colliding in an artful but shrewd manner.
Clearly, "New Rock" isn't just one of their songs; it isn't just the title of their latest album; and it isn't just an advertising slogan on their T-shirts.
"New Rock" is Buffalo Daughter's intent and their credo.
Throughout their set, Buffalo Daughter -- making their second Los Angeles appearance this year -- showcased a savvy, totally contemporary sound: a compelling pastiche of techno and guitar rock.
"I thought they were just amazing -- that big, cool sound," said Alicia Green, 19, of San Diego. "I came to see Girls Against Boys, but now I have a new second-favorite band."
Yoshinada heightened the band's subtle sense of humor in the satirical number "Socks, Drugs and Rock 'N' Roll" by switching the gaze of her large, dark eyes to either side of the room with each word of the chorus. "Thank you for listening to us," she said at the close of the set.
The headlining Girls Against Boys, former hunks of hardcore punk, played techno-juiced "disco-tortional" post-punk rock that featured aggressive guitar and frantic rhythms. Their recent emphasis on electronic textures in their music, as heard on their latest album, Freak*On*Ica, has put the quartet from Washington, D.C., on common ground with Buffalo Daughter.
"We really didn't want to repeat ourselves and make another House of GVSB [their last album]," vocalist/keyboardist/bassist Eli Janney said after the show.
Despite the modifications to the band's sound, Janney still looked like he might throw his neck out as he thrashed back and forth on stage during the more energetic Girls Against Boys songs.
GVSB played with confidence and determination, led by singer/guitarist Scott McCloud, who was dressed all in black.
Their double-bass attack was enhanced by a DJ. Illuminated by bright-white footlights, they appeared almost oblivious to the crowd while delivering songs such as the scratch-laden "Psycho-Future" and the mesmeric "Roxy" (RealAudio excerpt).
"I've never seen such a variety of music in one band -- a guy spinning records, two bass players, all that," said Nicole Porter, 18, of Ventura County. "It's hard to get people to dance in L.A. But they did it."