SAN FRANCISCO Scottish pop-punkers Bis took over the
Great American Music Hall on Wednesday night with their spunky,
danceable anthems of teen rebellion.
The band plowed through its synth-punk catalog with an exuberance that
had the mostly teenage crowd dancing and hopping along throughout the
Critics have dismissed Bis for their youth and often bratty, pop-punk
style. Undaunted by charges their music is cartoonish, they embraced
that idea by writing the theme song for Cartoon Network's "Powerpuff Girls" series. But Bis have more to offer than disposable fluff they proved they can really rock.
The band singer/guitarist brothers Sci-Fi Steven, 23,
and John Disco, 21 (born Steven and John Clark), and singer/keyboardist
Manda Rin, 22 formed five years ago in their native Glasgow.
The first unsigned band ever to appear on the UK music show "Top of
the Pops," Bis were recruited to the Grand Royal label by Beastie Boy
Mike D after an intense bidding war.
"This is a dance song and I want you all to dance!" John Disco
declared as the trio launched into the third song of the set, the
rambunctious single "Eurodisco" (RealAudio excerpt), from their third full-length album, Social Dancing, released in the States last month.
The animated John Disco jumped, smiled, danced and rocked out on his
guitar, while Sci-Fi Steven hopped and swayed center-stage. Manda Rin
kept the right side of the stage alive with her boisterous bouncing
On Social Dancing, Bis move away from their bratty punk sound
to focus more on electronic dance pop. Further illustrating the new
direction was the new, guitarless "Are You Ready?," with the brothers
taking over Manda Rin's keyboards while she bounced around center-stage.
"In the future, we'll probably experiment more with beats, put more
emphasis on that, but not move in one specific direction," John Disco
said backstage before the show. "Other artists I admire do that kind
of thing, using little bits of everything. We've always been rather
like that anyway."
The band sprinkled the set with older hits, such as "Starbright Boy"
and "Monstarr" from 1997's The New Transistor Heroes, the
latter with Rin singing through a megaphone.
"We're gonna slow it down a bit 'cause we're old," joked Sci-Fi
Steven as they dove into the relatively downbeat "Detour." They
followed it up with a crowd favorite, "School Disco," from the 1996
This Is Teen-C Power! EP, which got the audience pogoing again.
"They are so fun live, such a great onstage presence," Josh Rohmer,
26, of San Francisco said. "And they're so confident and together for
being so young."
An hour after they began, Rin and Sci-Fi Steven took over each
other's instruments for the band's last number, the gorgeously peppy
"Shopaholic" (RealAudio excerpt), which several fans had been shouting for all evening.
"I think I'm the oldest person here," Sarah Stinson, 27, of Oakland,
Calif., said. "But they're so fun and energetic and really tight. God,
what was I doing when I was that age?"