In a parallel universe, but not a completely bizarro one, Love Pentagon’s Saturday homecoming show marked a return not from a five-year lapse but from a five-month tour, of indie festivals and college venues. If you caught the five-piece band here in its prime, you can surely picture it, what might have been, had the group stayed together, ridden the late-2000s indie wave and caught one of the record industry eyes turning toward Las Vegas at the time. The Pentagon had all the right moves, it seemed—a fun sound, a neat look, even some colorful costumes—to break beyond our borders.
Instead, as they often do, jobs and personal lives intervened, with three of five members eventually scattering out of town, leaving behind a six-track CD and memories of nights spent dancing to its songs. Lots of memories, it turns out, if Saturday’s Backstage Bar & Billiards turnout is any indication. Packed with familiar faces from back in the day, more like a high school reunion than an average Downtown crowd, the room built with energy as surviving contemporaries A Crowd of Small Adventures and then the original ladies of Love Pentagon—singer Christina Usatenko, bassist Judi Brown, keyboardist Marites Velasquez, guitarist Amanda Morgan and drummer Courtney Carroll—took the stage.
Coolest of all, the just-returned Pentagon sounded vibrant and tight after just three days of practice. If anything, old favorites like “Diamond 700 Minus Star,” “Dark Circus” and “Kuh Kah!” came across edgier than ever behind Carroll’s forceful timekeeping and Brown’s bouncy basslines, with Usatenko’s piercing vocals punching up the dancey vibe. Love Pentagon played five cuts off Bang!, three written for an intended fortune cookie-themed follow-up (song “Time to Collect Those Goods” was named for an actual fortune one of them received, according to Carroll) and a cover of The Make-Up’s “I Am Pentagon.” As great nights with old friends tend to, it flew by far too fast, leaving the audience buzzing but also a bit bummed. “See you in another five years,” Brown said just before the finish. Only if we’re lucky.