THE OLD SHOW BUSINESS ADAGE goes, "Never follow a child or an animal." And while "animal" probably isn't meant to apply to a guy dressed in a polar bear suit, the consequences were equally disastrous last Saturday night at the Breakroom, where 200 or so people had gathered to see Sub Pop's latest buzz band, Evil Tambourines.

Evil Tambourines' breezy debut, Library Nation, deftly blends elements like Arrested Development, Beck, and Sugar Hill with the vocals of Al Larsen and Lois Maffeo to create the Official Soundtrack of Summer 1999. How disappointing it was, then, to find the band in the live setting to be uninspired, unprofessional, and downright cringeworthy.

Granted, the guy in the polar bear outfit--calling himself Pleaseeasaur--was a tough act to follow. What at first seemed to be another jokey performance artist turned out to be just that--only hilarious--and charming. Pacing in front of a sheet projected with images occasionally corresponding to his lyrics, the furry performer rapped comically about the unpleasant odor of dog shit and other ridiculous topics, to increasingly infectious effect. Expressions went from confused to gleeful as the audience processed what was happening on stage. Many whooped for an encore when Pleaseeasaur finished his set.

Forty-five minutes later--enough time for the crowd to get drunk with anticipation as well as on Pabst Blue Ribbon--Evil Tambourines finally took the stage. Poor sound and the kind of embarrassing, late-night-party jam session that should only happen in the privacy of your own home poured an ocean of cold water on the party vibe that had built in the room. The band and its friends seemed to be enjoying themselves, but much of the audience shook their heads in disbelief at the sheer letdown from album to live reality.

Even headliners IQU--formerly ICU--were off their game, proving merely enjoyable when in the past they've been nothing short of breathtaking. Perhaps they, too, were blindsided by the guy in the polar bear suit. Or maybe the sight of Al Larsen--wonderful in his Some Velvet Sidewalk--writhing on the ground "rapping," was, as it was for the rest of us, too much to take.

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