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Grape St.

8pm, Sony Club @ Red 7

By Austin Powell, Fri., March 16, 2012

Grape St.

Grape St. leader Curtis O'Mara is something of a disheveled pop shaman.

"He's got a pseudoreligion he's developed," Michael Coomers, his former cohort in locals Harlem, once told the Chronicle. "It's an amalgam of the playing cards he finds on the streets and shit he cuts out of people's hair."

O'Mara has a drunken poet's charm and a used car salesman's persistence, a combination that, as with Beck or Daniel Johnston, helps him turn psychedelic musings into perfectly shambled garage-pop songs.

"The best lyrics are the ones that are so dumbed down, simple, and beautiful, because you can reach everyone with that," O'Mara stresses one late night on the way to band rehearsal. "You don't want to make people think. You want people to get goose bumps all over their body when they're rocking out to your song."

While Harlem's 2010 Matador debut Hippies had a soft spot for girl groups and Sixties beach party films, Grape St. has a bruised edge in line with the Rolling Stones. While only two songs have surfaced online, the Austin quintet has finished a full-length and nabbed an opening slot on the Sub Pop showcase.

"I'm not a pop songwriter; I'm just a filter, like a fish in an aquarium, which I have three of at my house, and they're gigantic," cracks O'Mara, outlining his creative process in a whirl of free association. "You can have them all lit up and then that's your main source of lighting. Then you play guitar and write pop licks. That's how it happens, just putting it down on 4-track and arranging it with the band.

"Then it becomes Grape St. Then you just cruise down the Grape Street"

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