Norman band uses element of surprise during live performances 

MySpace junkies who found Early Beat online and perused the Norman band's songs before committing to a live show might be in for a surprise Friday night.

The online tracks were taken from the group's self-titled debut, which simmers with ambient, jazz-tinged indie rock. Onstage, however, Early Beat is a wellspring of presence and boundless energy, particularly at a performance at the Opolis in October where the act roared through a quick and chaotic set that served as stark contrast to its studio persona.

Live, Early Beat tapped into its inner Who, including a set-ending Nirvana freak-out where bassist Sean Barker got so caught up bashing his bass guitar that he collided with lead singer Michael Loveland's guitar, leaving a gash on Barker's forehead. Barker is the band's comedic foil and was sporting daisy dukes, a cowboy hat and Loveland's girlfriend's black bra at the October show. He said the difference between live and recorded isn't intentional, or even really apparent to the group.

"Not so much a style, more of a flow," Barker said, summing up the band's live energy. "It's an archaic feeling out of existence. It's the pure energy of four strapping lads standing side by side."

The recordings are more of an exploration as the newly retooled lineup works to find itself. The current incarnation has existed less than a year and began recording after only two months due to bursts of creativity that resulted in large caches of material.

 "We worked to give each song its own unique personality," said guitarist Patrick Roberts. "All these songs that we are playing, we are really comfortable with, and once we had enough songs, we decided to make an album."

The band is already injecting fresh batches of songs into its live show, and members are unsure if several anticipated recording projects will resemble the debut album. Early Beat returns to Norman's Opolis, 113 N. Crawford, for a 9 p.m. Friday show with El Paso Hot Button and The Blacks. Tickets are $7. Call 447-3417. "Charles Martin

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Charles Martin

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