Accurately describing Stolen Babies typically involves the use of a half dozen hyphens connecting words such as quirky, avant-garde and cabaret.
The band is an odd sort — too weird and quiet to be a metal band (they utilize an accordion and violins, for example), but too heavy and dark be anything but.
It's made the band a bit tough to market, says guitarist Rani Sharone.
Once the band gets in front of audiences, those quirks don't matter so much.
"People, they get it. They're not dumb," Sharone says.
The band will play at Strummer's Friday night for the opening night of a two-week tour with the bands Otep and New Years Day.
Stolen Babies grew from the remnants of The Fratellis, a 12-member performance ensemble not to be confused with the Scottish rock band of the same name. The group played cartoonish big-band music that was heavy on theatrics. Its live shows had puppets, costumes and narratives.
The Stolen Babies name is taken from one such skit.
At a certain point, the logistics of playing with The Fratellis became too much to maintain, Sharone says.
"We were pulling off things that required a lot of money."
When The Fratellis disbanded, Sharone — along with his brother drummer Gil Sharone and singer Dominique Persi — tried to leave the theatrical stuff aside. They tried to be more of a straight-ahead rock band.
"It never felt right," Sharone says. "We learned we couldn't live without it."
While Stolen Babies remains rooted in its performance theatrics and stage aesthetics, it has become more practical about the realities of life as a performing band, Sharone says.
When they needed a sound man to tour with, they moved their percussion player up to the sound booth where he was needed more. The lighting tech used to sell merchandise, but now he does double duty.
It took the band a long time to realize these things matter, Sharone says. Having someone at the light board who knows the music inside out and can actually create atmosphere, which really pulls the audience into the moment.
"It's not just about smoke and mirrors," Sharone says. "It really does have an effect."
Stolen Babies, on tour with Otep and New Years Day, 8 p.m. Friday at Strummer's, 833 E. Fern Ave. Tickets are $18. Details: (559) 485-5356, numbskullshows.com
This reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6479, firstname.lastname@example.org or @Joshuatehee on Twitter.