The Best Acts We Saw at the HPMA Showcase, 8/4/2013

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Born Again Virgins Born Again Virgins ripped up their set at Dirt Bar early into the showcase yesterday. I still can't get over the powerful stage presence that guitarist Adria LeCrone has; she rivals front man James Red, which is pretty impressive given he spent most of the set shirtless, sweaty, and damn near growling out those throaty vocals. Bonus points for the Jane's Addiction cover. I can dig. ANGELICA LEICHT

Fat Tony Fat Tony was as good as I've ever seen him on Sunday night. There were no entourages or girls or bottles on stage at the Bronze Peacock, just one guy with one mic and a supremely confident flow. "Drink Guinness" was my favorite cut of the night, but the crowd was feeling everything. If somebody received a more enthusiastic response all night, I didn't see it. Fat Tony had to follow some strong performers, and he stepped up big. He stood out amongst the all-stars. NATHAN SMITH

Nick Greer & the G's Nick Greer, the bespectacled keyboardist and singer with a love for clown noses, has got some soul, man! Along with his backup band The G's, this HPMA nominee plays with real emotion and a profound love of music, enough to elicit loud cheers and several dozen new fans in the Bronze Peacock room at House of Blues.

The front row was filled with several family and friends, including his own mother, many of whom were wearing the red clown nose in support of the red-headed singer. He closed with a cover of Blackstreet's "No Diggity", enticing the crowd to sing along to the New Jack Swing anthem and throw their hands in the air like they just didn't care (although they most certainly did!). MARCO TORRES

Junior Gordon Band Junior Gordon and his band didn't have much of a crowd in the opening spot at House of Blues' Crossroads stage -- which is always brutal -- but you'd never know it. Gordon strutted like the biggest rooster in the barnyard, while his band twanged out songs that left the spineless bull on 100.3 in the dust, seamlessly blending Dierks Bentley's "Lot of Leavin' Left to Do" and Waylon's "Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way?" like it was meant to be done that way.

Country came to town all right; it's just a shame so many people didn't know what they missed. CHRIS GRAY

The Manichean I've only been to a piano bar once, and that was for a bachelorette party. And I'd seen The Manichean perform before, but it wasn't until I saw them at Pete's Dueling Piano Bar that I realized how they transform each and every performance into an event. Singer Cory Sinclair, and guitarist Justice Tirapelli-Jamail were able to take command of the industrial space with a stripped-down performance with the help of a typewriter, a baby piano and guitarist Sean Spiller.

It's the kind of performance that other bands wouldn't risk, especially for a showcase that could potentially win or lose votes for the band. But The Manichean don't play it safe, and in this case less was more, because they stood apart for it. ALYSSA DUPREE

The Niceguys I was disappointed at the sparse crowd in the Bronze Peacock room when the Niceguys took the stage, yet in what seemed like scarcely over a minute after they started, the place filled up with a good-sized crowd. They were energetic and playful with the audience without being obnoxious, which is a tough line to toe. The beats and verbal gymnastics were of course top-notch, but it was how they made the crowd a part of the show that really made The Niceguys special. JOHN SEABORN GRAY

thelastplaceyoulook Me and thelastplaceyoulook have never really connected live. I wouldn't say I've hated them, I just never got it. But last night at Dirt Bar it finally clicked. The music was good. The lights made the show feel big. The crowd was excited. It's nice to see a local band think big. There's a lot of great songwriters, but not a lot of great performers.

TLPYL manage to be both, and my night was better for it. CORY GARCIA


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