“We changed in the van,” said Jennifer Fox, the drummer of Fast Computers said as she wrinkled her nose by the dimly lit bar. Though that hardly seemed fitting for a band earning accolades from sources as diverse as Hustler Magazine and National Public Radio, the hectic beginning did not seem to affect their spirits or their style. In fact, the contradiction is a major part of the Portland, OR based band’s appeal; they are as glamorous as they are geeky.
The four-piece, which is Fox on drums, Brenna Sheridan on guitar, Andrew Stern on bass and Peter Dean on lead vocals and electric piano, completed a three-week tour of the Midwest in September and were in San Francisco as part of a two-stop mini tour in support of their new album, “Heart Geometry.”
“This is the first band I’ve been in that’s sold enough to support being on the road,” said Stern, dressed in a tweed jacket and sweater vest.
Fast Computers, which started in 2003 with just Dean and Fox as members has received rave reviews for Heart Geometry, even if reviewers have trouble pinning just who it is the band sounds like.
The list of bands reviewers have compared the Fast Computers to is diverse; Morrissey, Belle and Sebastian, Soft Cell, New Order, Mates of State, Queen, Quasi, Jarvis Cocker and even Brian Wilson.
“Quasi meets Pulp with sex-appeal,” Dean said succinctly.
But Stern shied away from some of the comparisons. “It’s not cheesy Eighties synth pop. We’re not Euro trash.”
“It’s a much more cosmopolitan sound.”
The Nov. 10 show at the Hemlock Tavern included local girls and guys Finest Dearest and Master Slash Slave, a San Francisco-based dance/rock style band that had played with Fast Computers in Reno the night before.
With enthusiasm and three synthesizers, Fast Computers began their nine-song set with “Don’t Talk,” off their old LP, SP, and included the NPR-rated song of the day “Sweden Hasn’t Changed, You Have.”
Peter Dean kept the show moving and slyly dedicated every song to a different person (mostly to ladies).
Fast Computers sounded surprisingly more raucous live than on their new album.
The audience, clearly dedicated to have braved the Oracle Conference crowds and pouring rain, was small, but matched the enthusiasm of the band enough to make the former sound studio turned tiny concert hall at the back of the Hemlock feel full and merry.
The band has no current plans to tour again, though they will play a few dates in Oregon in December and head to the South By Southwest music festival in Austin, Texas in March.
More information about Fast Computers and some of their new songs from their fun, poppy album “Heart Geometry”can be found at myspace.com/fastcomputers.