Aftermath: Neon Collars at Rocbar

Photos by Chris GrayWith a heavy funk groove, guitar equally rooted in jazz and rock and soulful vocals as fierce as anything Sasha could belt out, Neon Collars makes you wonder - happily, for once - what they're teaching in the schools these days. The five-piece sometimes telegraphs its age in Franchelle Lucas' starry-eyed lyrics - planting seeds, trusting "intuition" and "guidance" - but with a voice that could stop traffic, she deserves a little leeway. Thursday night at Rocbar, Neon Collars opened for Peekaboo Theory and A Fetish Vendetta with a not-long-enough set that amounted to 35 or so minutes of potential. It was mystical and earthy, exotic and organic.

Guitarist Denis "the Menace" Cisneros hinted at Afropop, Funkadelic, Santana and the Red Hot Chili Peppers; the rhythm section locked down a watertight groove highlighted by Carlos Conway's Ohio Players/O'Jays-like bass snap, crackle and pop; and Lucas' commanding vocals blossomed into some otherworldy, Arabesque vocalizing during "Rebel," billowing around a guitar figure from Cisneros that seemed divorced from any discernible pattern or meter. All that, and the band - whose core members met at church - is barely six months old. Neon Collars has already opened for Erykah Badu at the Arena Theater, released an EP (Chasing Strange, available on CDBaby) and is working on an album. So what are you doing with your life?

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