Local upstarts play the Ché Café

    On Feb. 20 the Ché Café will host a showcase of the best of local San Diego rock. The Liquorice Quartet, the Pinwheels, the Displaced and the Glossines will all perform at a benefit show for Free Radio San Diego, a local pirate radio station.

    Each band playing at the Ché Café features female vocals and heavy reputations: The Glossines (nominated for Best Local Recording at the San Diego Music Awards) run down the garage rock alley, the Displaced (nominated for both Best New Artist and Best Alternative Album) take a heavy rock sound to the top of the San Diego scene, and the Pinwheels bring a sweet taste for melody and style to the bill.

    The Liquorice Quartet throw their diverse influences together into an organ-driven, guitar solo-laden attack led by the complementary voices of Kelley Mitchell and Lauren Spears. Their songs walk the line between bright, psychedelic unreality and darkness beneath: One moment you’re in Candyland (the inspiration for the group’s incredible Web site, http://www.theliquoricequartet.com), and the next you’re in the midst of a dirty, haunting trip. Underneath all of it is a throwback rock aesthetic that emerges in Chris Field’s affecting, grungy guitar work.

    Walter Bitts supplies the staccato snare-drumming, and with these elements the Liquorice Quartet achieve a unique, three-dimensional sound. The group has made a few good recordings which are available on its Web site, but it is looking to go into the studio to record more.

    The show benefits Free Radio San Diego, a politically minded pirate station struggling to put out a somewhat subversive message over the din of corporate radio. The station, which broadcasts at 96.9 FM, plays everything from Al Green to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs on a mind-bogglingly diverse playlist.

    All proceeds from ticket sales go to Free Radio San Diego. Tickets are $5 and doors open at 8 p.m.

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