Garage rock has become a frustratingly misused phrase since the White Stripes became MTV's favorite little novelty indie duo. When writers start calling studio-polished bands like the Vines "garage"--a genre that once loosely defined a raw style of rock 'n' roll--the word becomes an evil marketing tool. And just like the grunge label before it, the original meaning becomes bastardized for the sake of making a new buck off the retro-rock lemmings.

Oakland, California's the Pattern play real garage rock, in the stripped-back, live-stylings sense of the word. They started out as a couple of guys from East Bay punk acts, coming together to play basement shows and getting Lookout! Records owner/ex-Peechees Chris Appelgren to howl at the mic. Appelgren scowls, screams, and whines with the tenacity of a 14-year-old who doesn't know whether he wants to hump your leg or grovel at your feet. "Rock 'n' roll--and music in general--is full of personas and characters, and I'm trying to create a larger version of myself," says Appelgren. "Something that's not redundant and not somebody else, but that involves inflating my ego and my sexuality to larger proportions and putting it on ridiculous display. I think [my persona] is also a reaction to the music we write."

Appelgren's wily delivery is matched by the band's self-labeled "punk boogie"--short-fused garage rock sparked with playful, messy pop. Their music blends silliness and Appelgren's vocal theatrics with a swaggering splatter of trashiness, sprayed over everything like cheap cologne.

Of course, it didn't take long for the U.K. to cream all over these guys, with NME and Kerrang scrambling to elevate the band to the masses (the latter calling the Pattern "the post-punk Rolling Stones"); but after releasing their debut, Immediately, last September, and releasing its excellent follow-up, Real Feelness, just over a week ago, the band deserves the praise. To Appelgren, though, his musical profession is still true in its original aim to have fun. "To me, there's always an element of the ridiculous in rock 'n' roll, and that's what I kind of gravitate toward," he says. "I think it's always been a part of what we want to do--not ironically, but more like showing its ridiculousness. There are all these characters in music--it's almost like a superhero universe."

The Pattern perform at the EMP Sky Church, Fri Aug 30, 8-9 pm.