Best Salsa Club

Best of SA 2013: 4/24/2013
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Live & Local

Live & The Panic Division: 502 Bar

Photo: Enrique Lopetegui, License: N/A

Enrique Lopetegui

The Panic Division

The Panic Division doesn’t play too often. But when they do, they grip your attention with a ferocious hold long enough to win you over — if you haven't succumbed  already. The release party for Eternalism, the band’s fourth album (written and mostly recorded by Colton Holliday flying solo), presented a well-balanced playlist of new and old songs in an almost packed 502 Bar, an ideal, great-sounding venue to showcase their ambitious sound.

Following a terrific, rousing set by the Heroine, Colton Holliday’s band presented themselves as the antithesis of SA’s hard rock machine: cool, composed, but no less effective. Initiating the set with “From the Top” from sophomore album Songs From the Glasshouse, the band’s synth-pop heavy tracks almost seamlessly transitioned from the studio versions. The mixture of alternative rock guitar riffs, ’80s-inspired synth, and Holliday’s confident vocal delivery had an added emphasis the studio versions lacked, thanks to returning member Noe Carmona’s bass, and Joe Ramos’ drums (Ramos only played on four tracks of Eternalism). New guitarist Garett Loggins — whose elegant and precise style fits the band like a glove — shares his bandmates’ no-nonsense approach to live performance. It’s a solid lineup, and the band never faltered — not an easy thing to achieve when you follow a band like the Heroine.

In a last blare of energy, they closed out the set with Holliday belting out the familiar chorus, “The heart goes on and on…” from Glasshouse’s “Big Day.” Even though occasionally it seems the band’s music is smarter than its one-dimensional heartbreak lyrics (I could live perfectly well without lines like “there’s no river long enough to break my faith in you, my love,” from “No Power Great Enough,” or “my heart is the reason I believed your words” in “Too Young to Fall”), the Panic Division doesn’t need to play every weekend or write as well as Dylan to show they’re one of our stronger local acts.Despite the revolving members and small handful of live shows per year, the Panic Division is back in a triumphant way on the strength of one thing only — the music.

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