Music Reviews

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House of Blues, West Hollywood
Monday, March 26

It was time-warp odd to hear '80s hits by Hall & Oates playing before Gym Class Heroes performed Monday night, but then, the band's current outing is called the Daryl Hall for President Tour. Following strains of "Hail to the Chief," the alternative hip-hop group bounded onstage before a sellout crowd, mostly college-age and teens, at the House of Blues in West Hollywood.

Gym Class Heroes formed a decade ago in Upstate New York but have found their greatest success in the past year, moving from Warped Tour band status to hot CHR favorites on the airwaves with the hit "Cupid's Chokehold," from the band's current album "As Cruel as School Children" (Atlantic/Decaydance/Fueled by Ramen).

Using actual instrumentation rather than samples, the group has honed a successful formula that often frames songs in warm-and-fuzzy pop arrangements, bolstered by looping bass boom, topped by rapid-fire rap delivery and singing as well. This combination was effective in numbers such as the rolling "Shoot Down the Stars" and somewhat dorky yet playful "Taxi Driver."

Hands on the dance floor were up in the air, raised and waving, for much for the show as vocalist-bandleader Travis McCoy worked the enthusiastic audience.

The set hit its peak midway with an off-center but true-hearted cover of the Beach Boys' "Good Vibrations," followed by the group's own catchy "The Queen and I" and a slice of winning pop glide in "7 Weeks," one of several potential future hits, bolstered by a "hey, hey, hey" refrain.

The energy seemed to wane a bit after that, but if Gym Class Heroes sticks to the party-time hooks, they could be on their way to becoming a next-generation Sugar Ray of sorts. While sophomoric at times and over-reaching when attempting some social commentary, there's a summertime sense of breezy fun that colors the band's best songs.

The second-billed Rx Bandits offered a fine contrast, proving to be more musically adept with reggae- and ska-influenced jam rock that featured nicely ragged three-part harmonies, guitar aeronautics and trombone.

Also performing was confrontational rapper P.O.S. and Canada's touted rap star k-os.

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