From the Icy Coast
Wed June 19 at Central Saloon.

If I was dividing hard rock into two very general categories, I'd say one of the biggest separations comes from the finish--how raw or how glossy the band tries to fashion itself.

Certain acts come off with a more primitive edge, with roughed-up noise, while others lacquer a thick, polished coating over every inch of the final product. I'd put a band like Seattle's From the Icy Coast in the latter category. Although the group (singer Howie Sennet, guitarists Troy Fleisch- auer and Michael Aaryn, bassist Aaron McCoy, and drummer Aaron Nicholes) have only been playing together for about a year, they have a big, atmospheric rock vibe that has commercial-radio-breakthrough seemingly written into all aspects of their work.

When FTIC performed last Wednesday at the Central, they filled up every inch of the brick-walled space with some kind of effects or electronics until the guitars, bass, and background textures became one gigantic wall of processed sound. Sennet, a young Christopher Walken look-alike, ran his emotional roller coasters through these heady constructions, gripping his mic as if that piece of equipment needed to understand, more than anything else in the room, his inner demons. Sennet's voice reminded me of Live's Ed Kowalczyk, but Sennet gave a much more understated delivery, forgoing Kowalczyk's (at times grating) showy theatrics for more straight-ahead expressive displays.

Although the mix of the band's standard alt-rock fare and the sheer mass of their effects left me wanting a little more of an edge (I usually like the rawer sound myself), FTIC definitely had their fans in the crowd--including one loudly enthusiastic clapper in a Rammstein shirt, to his girlfriend's chagrin. With even more polishing (this was only like their fourth show), maybe FTIC will also find a place with the brooding rock fans of bands like Incubus and Nickelback.

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