We Are Lions

To be fair, what else could the A.S. kids have scraped together with their leftover pocket change, having already snagged smoothtalker Lupe Fiasco and curly-haired Ben Kweller? It is only fitting that the fest’s third slot be reserved for a more obscure, albeit danceable, opener.

Now, if they had a magically expansive budget, A.S. could have imported, say, the Dublin deities of U2 or their infinitely revered chums, Radiohead. But because such a budget is about as likely as a UCSD football team, those billion-dollar buggers won’t soon grace the RIMAC stage (unless Bono takes us on as his next charity case). So instead, A.S. filled their elusive “other” spot with what they figured was the next best thing — babyfaced Britpop wannabes, We Are Lions. Hey, you can’t blame ’em for trying.

But judging from their one-and-only album, Eight Arms Made This (get it? Because there are four of them?), imitation may prove the worst form of flattery, with patently inspired efforts quickly buckling to a lukewarm, samesy slog.

Lead guitarist Atom Whitman’s calculated Thom-Yorke strumming is all but lost to his sulky, I-hate-you-Mom moans. Piled in slurpy lyrical noodles like “Sweetheart, I’m apologetic/ But not sorry in the slightest,” it’s hard to appreciate the poppy, fast-driven rhythms that ultimately save the Lions from a permanent spot in the garage.

But other tracks, like the throbbing “Lovers and Fighters” or hormonally squeaky “La Vendetta Dulce” glow with the frenzied vibrancy that pushed whiners like Cursive or Fall Out Boy onto the bedroom walls of angry pre-teens everywhere. Who knows — maybe there’s some appeal to anthemic, off-key repetitions like “Talk talk talk/ What they say/ I’ve got got got/ To get away.” Let’s just hope the Hollywood-bred rockers won’t convince kids to “get away” before the real cats arrive.