A collection of pop bands came to Slim’s on Sunday night to rock out in front of a small but extremely enthusiastic crowd, comprising mostly young women excited to see one of their favorite bands. Personally, I was drawn to the show by the appearance of Tally Hall, but was looking forward to a full Rooney set, having only seen them as an opener before. I didn’t know an important thing about them, though, which explains a lot.The Crash Kings started the show, and I didn’t know what to write about them. They played some bluesy rock numbers that I liked, but I was getting reviewer’s writers block, so I asked for help from my fellow Spinning Platters writers who were accompanying me.
Vanessa said: “they’re like the VH-1 version of rock.”
Joel said: “they sounded, at different times, like The Police, White Stripes, Maroon 5 and Journey. They were an unoriginal band with a good sound. Their long-term future is in being a cover band.”
Tally Hall was on next, and as they were setting themselves up, I noticed that their trademark ties had disappeared, having been replaced by vests and fake mustaches. Turns out this was just a lark, as the ties returned for their main set. What didn’t return, however, was their trademark anything-goes energy. Stuck with the prospect of a 35-minute set, the band jammed as many songs as they possibly could into the set, leaving behind most of their banter. The band has all this new material to show off, and I think a 45-50 minute set would be more appropriate for them. I felt like they were reined in a bit.
Also, they were beset with some sound issues. Some monstrously loud distorted noises were heard during their setup, scaring the crowd, and it returned as the keyboard player (green tie) turned on the vocal processor for his part in “Spring and a Storm.” Also, the microphone of Rob Cantor (yellow tie) seemed to be turned down to low so when he sang he was overpowered by the harmony vocals. And then the bass was simply just turned up too loud. Being an opening band is always a bit of a crapshoot soundwise, and it’s a shame that the sound guy sevened out on this one.
You may ask, of course, how was the new material? At first listen, it feels a lot more rock oriented than the stuff on their debut album, Marvin’s Marvelous Mechanical Museum. I think “Turn the Lights Off” has the most potential to be a fan favorite. I’m looking forward to the full length album and the inevitable headlining tour, so that I’ll be able to sit on the floor with Tally Hall again. The support band slot doesn’t seem to suit them well.
Tally Hall’s set list, as scribbled on a napkin by Joe:
Next up was Rooney, and while there were definitely a few people that left after Tally Hall finished, the enthusiastic screaming-girl response for Rooney, particularly front man Robert Schwartzman, was deafening. What I didn’t know before signing up to cover this show was that the lead singer of the band had been “the boy she dances with” in The Princess Diaries. Not that this would have changed anything about their sugary pop sound, but maybe I would have brought heartier ear plugs.
Their 18-song set was a tight 80 minutes, including encore, and they just plowed through songs from their two full length albums as well as the entirety of their new EP, A Wild One. There was a fair amount of singing along, a few crazy jumping guys, and more of that screaming. There wasn’t a boring moment in the whole set.
I don’t know exactly what to make of Rooney. On the one hand, they clearly wish that they could have been a brit pop band, but I also hear a lot of Weezer in their sound. I can’t see any reason why they’re not the most popular band in the world, but I also understand why they’re not with a major label right now. There’s nothing gimmicky about them, and unfortunately it seems that rock bands with clear hooks aren’t all the rage right now.
They do know how to cultivate the love of their fans, though, as with a $5 purchase of their new EP, you were invited to stay after the show for a meet and greet. The post-label life for Rooney is a promising one, as they’re incredibly likeable and built to last. Pop songs may not be trendy, but they’ll never truly go out of style, and Rooney is an absolutely solid pop band.
Rooney set list:
Don’t Come Around Again
Are You Afraid?
If It Were Up to Me
I Don’t Understand
Rockin’ in the Free World
ISHBAY “I Should Have Been After You”
Days Keep Going By
Spinning Platters was on the Tally Hall guest list for this show, but didn’t have a photo pass. For some reason, all cameras were checked at the door, so excuse the fairly crappy iPhone photo in the header.