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The Redwalls (opening for Keane and the Zutons) 

Saturday, February 19; the Pageant (6161 Delmar Boulevard)

Opening acts have a tough lot in life. They play before everybody arrives, and the folks in the house are still practicing social skills rather than paying attention to songs they've never heard before. They have to set up in whatever space is left once the stars' equipment is onstage. Why do they do it? Because opening acts have a chance to make an impression, to build the buzz that might one day lead to headliner status.

For the last year and a half, the Redwalls have been the opening act in a lot of situations. Following the release of its debut album, Universal Blues, in November of 2003, the very young Chicago quartet has picked up fans wherever it could find them, often appearing with other bands in the burgeoning teen guitar-pop field, such as Rooney or Keane.

Not to cast aspersions on the frothy pleasures of the above-named acts, but the Redwalls could easily wind up outlasting them both. Recorded when all four members of the band were under 21, Universal Blues is a thrill ride of pop-rock gems. Immediately, you can't help but notice Justin Baren's McCartney-like bass, or his brother Logan's Lennon-like vocals. Toss in the occasional Harrison impersonation from guitarist Andrew Langer, and you've got a band that's learned plenty from the Beatles.

But there is much more to the Redwalls than pastiche. These guys have songs that stick in the head and an energy onstage that can't be resisted. Get to the Pageant early on Saturday and get settled in. This is one opening act you won't want to miss.

Doors at 7 p.m., show at 8 p.m. Tickets are $17.50; call 314-726-6161 for more information.

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