The Spin never knows when rock shows will start on time, so when we arrived at The Features’ show at Mercy Lounge just a bit late last night, we were disappointed to find we’d already missed most of The Selmanaires’ set. The Selmanaires are one of our favorite bands out of Atlanta, and their Can-inspired post-punk always gets us stomping our feet. Once we worked our way through the sweaty, seething crowd (one of the biggest we’ve seen at Mercy in weeks), we discovered it was a Camel promotional event, meaning the entire club was packed with cigarette paraphernalia, posters and employees—even a body painting station.
Pico vs Island Trees played second, and their clean, practiced rock certainly translated well with those in the audience with an ear for radio pop. A particularly excited cluster of swooning ladies in the front row seemed to know all of Pico’s lyrics, and lead singer Brian Carter wooed them sassily with tambourine in hand. The pretty boys of Pico were tight, and their four-part harmonies were certainly one of their strongest selling points.
When The Features finally stepped on stage, it was plain to see they still retained the poise of old pros despite being bludgeoned by the music industry machine one too many times. Matt Pelham’s spot-on vocals had the sweat-drenched crowd echoing his every hook. Bassist Roger Dabbs’ fingers flew across the strings of his Rickenbacker effortlessly as keyboardist Mark Bond’s poppy riffs balanced Pelham’s crystal clear vocals. Once again, Rollum Haas’ furious drumming bordered on assault and battery; one of these days, his kit may just tire of being bashed to pieces and leave him for good.
The Features played a lot of new material from the forthcoming full-length Some Kind of Salvation, but the songs were as lively and engaging as ever, and they blended well with the rest of the set. Pelham & Co.’s banter was about as sparse as it gets, but they let their jaunty, throbbing rock 'n' roll speak for itself. After a pretty lengthy encore, we left The Mercy Lounge with a newfound respect for The Features—and a couple free packs of smokes.