By  on May 1, 2007

INDIO, Calif. — When Tilly and the Wall took to the stage Friday night at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, their fans were almost as identifiable as the Omaha band itself. Tilly's three female members — Neely Jenkins, Kianna Alarid and Jamie Pressnall — were decked out in loads of bright spandex and silver sequins; the hordes of groupies were outfitted in vintage formal dresses chopped above the knee, a look Alarid has popularized over the past two years during the world tour of the folk-meets-pop band. "We have all superevolved over the years," says Alarid, 28, the lead singer, who also plays bass guitar, not to mention the shakers, tambourine and recorder. "We each have our own ideas of what we like for the stage." These days, Alarid's look includes shiny spandex catsuits with ruffled sleeves, as well as sleeker, less poufy frocks.

In fact, since the band formed in 2001, its stage style has been just as important as the music itself. "It's a full package," says Pressnall, 31, whose tap dancing serves as the band's percussion. (Her husband, Derek Pressnall, 27, plays guitar and sings for Tilly.) "When we first started, audiences didn't care as much what indie bands wore, but we've always been interested — obsessed, even — with dressing up." For Pressnall, that means a combination of dance-inspired pieces that must breathe and keep her cool, yet still have a major dose of punkish attitude. Recently, she's abandoned her signature tutus for Eighties-style rompers, which she likes to pair with shiny leggings, many of which are designed by Peggy Noland, based in Kansas City, Mo. The designer and boutique owner makes patterned rompers and spandex leggings for Pressnall, as well as catsuits for Alarid.

Omaha may not be known as a fashion capital, yet Pressnall says the city's dearth of chic boutiques has actually inspired a style revolution among local music types. "You have to fight for your own sense of style, and you don't really have anywhere to buy clothes except for thrift stores," says Pressnall, "so you just create it yourself, which has led to a ton of crazy style in Omaha."While they're all fashion junkies, not every member of Tilly and the Wall is a so-called crazy dresser. In fact, the clothes of keyboardist Nick White, 25, almost look as if they belong to the boy next door, albeit one with a penchant for a lot of jewelry. And vocalist Jenkins, 32, who also plays the bass, shakers and bells, considers herself the most conservative of the group. Describing her style as "more classic," she prefers to wear simple tops and jeans. "But for big shows, I will bust out with a sparkly top," she says.

Still, like most trendsetters, Tilly and the Wall aims to keep several steps ahead of the mainstream. Says Alarid, "When I start to see something everywhere, I know it's time for something new."

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