When a UK band hits a tiny stage in NYC for the first time and there are more than a few kids up front dancing madly and singing along to every word (try almost a sold-out room full of diehards!), you know they’ll do more than well here. (Their recent slot on Bloc Party’s U.S. arena tour has of course helped the Maccabees just a little). This is one of those young bands who deserve their time in the spotlight, on whichever side of the Atlantic they happen to be playing. And since the band’s eccentric Brighton neighbors, British Sea Power, seem to have fallen off the map for the time being, now’s a good chance for the Maccabees to take over their lead.

Singer Orlando Weeks’ engaging voice is the kind you’re either going to love or hate, and I happen to be a fan. There’s an unparalleled range of emotion in his delivery, heard at its finest as he switches effortlessly from fragile, cooing retro tones on songs like “First Love” to strident and fired-up on “Latchmere”, “X-Ray” and “Lego”. It’s no secret that Weeks must have a soft spot for singers like Ian Curtis (check out his twitchy arm dance and nerdy-cool, buttoned up shirt), but that doesn’t take away from his clever performance.

When the band strums the first bits of “Precious Time” towards the middle of the set, it’s obvious that it’s the hit tonight’s crowd was chuffed to hear most, myself included. It’s the kind of loud-soft-loud song that sweeps from sweet headphones stirrer to massive stomper within a few bars, with a chorus that won’t get out of your head. The Maccabees are obviously thrilled to see the foreigners bouncing madly as if they’d known the band for years, leading Weeks to humbly mention his surprise at the attention, since they come from a “place so far from here.”

Throughout the quick set, guitarist/vocalist Felix White seems unable to contain himself and his eyes almost pop out of his head from all his charismatic buoyancy, while ever-hooded guitarist Hugo White keeps things cool, or at least more serious, on stage left, with a coy grin only revealed when necessary. (I guess he’s the Russell Lissack type). Bloc Party must have been up for a good challenge when they invited these boys to share their American stages. Let’s hope the Maccabees return for CMJ.

Noisettes’ singer/bassist Shingai Shoniwa rushes on in a prowling fury of gold and black for the song “Don’t Give Up”. She’s got legions of female fans here tonight (not to mention the clusters of fan guys) and the room is ready to be whipped into a frenzy.

Shoniwa’s shimmering style goes beyond disarming and she’s truly a force to be reckoned with. She’s like a Cheetah rock goddess, wise and wild beyond her young years. With music so primal, pounding and fierce, it’s easy to see why this little trio aptly named the Noisettes are almost too big for this claustrophobic space, but who cares? Their spot-on show leaves us stunned and gasping for air. –MVW/photos by Tear-n-Tan