What's Up

Technical instrumental post-hardcore with feeling

PREVIEW Post-hardcore is as straightforward as it sounds: the bands that hardcore musicians started that drew on a broader range of music beyond the self-imposed limitations of hard 'n' fast. After those bands imploded or stagnated, new groups emerged to incorporate influences from so-called world music and the fringes of contemporary classical, making for a helping of instrumental, textural artists on the one hand (Black Dice), and hyper-technical indie rockers on the other (Dirty Projectors).

What's Up, however, is that rare thing: a technical instrumental band with lots of feeling. When I tell keyboardist-guitarist Robby Moncrieff by phone that I sense a lot of positive energy in the way the music is packed with bright, run-on melodies, he replies, "It comes from just being fed up with how things were going in town in a sense." "Town" is Sacramento, though Moncrieff, drummer Teddy Briggs, and bassist Brian Marshall recently relocated to Portland, Ore. "Sacramento's got a great little underground thing going on, but it's too small to support itself," Moncrieff continues. "There's a lot of moral support, and it's a great starting point, but it's hard to try to grow there."

What's Up is prepping to drop its first LP, Content Imagination, on Chicago's upstart Obey Your Brain label in the spring. Although people might hear traces of Moncrieff's work in 8-bit interpreters the Advantage, this band is a different beast. Briggs' and Marshall's solid, lurching rhythm section gives plenty of space for Moncrieff's hyperactive, distorted keyboards to turn out melodies that shimmer for a moment before contradicting themselves. If there's a signature What's Up track so far, it's "Harper's Introduction." There's something in the way the melody rides on the dirty keyboard bounce and the jerking rhythm of the drums and shaker that makes it seem like it could be some of the best beach music ever.

WHAT'S UP Fri/24, 8 p.m., call for price. Red Door Gallery 371 11th St., SF. (415) 652-4054. Also with Zach Hill, Oaxacan, and Religious Girls. Sat/25, 8:30 p.m., call for price. 21 Grand, 416 25th St., Oakl. (510) 444-7263, www.21grand.org

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