Noise Pop Show Review: Rogue Wave at Bottom of the Hill, 2/24/10

by Gordon Elgart on February 25, 2010

Ain't no party like a Rogue Wave party!

When a Rogue Wave show ends with a couple dozen people dancing on the Bottom of the Hill stage, you know a sea change has happened in the band. The press materials for the new album Permalight go into a lot of detail about this, but nothing in the press materials could prepare you for the new sounds coming out of the band: a little bit of dance (backing tracks?), a lot more volume, and some spirited takes on some old friends.

There were openers tonight–Two Sheds, Man/Miracle and Princeton–but as going to this show was a morning surprise, I show-hopped in from The Kronos Quartet down the street right toward the end of Princeton’s set. I assume it was similar to the one they played with Art Brut a few months back. I know Man/Miracle are great. I owe Two Sheds a listen, though.

Full disclosure: I know the band pretty well, both the people and the music, so I’m rooting for their success. (Because of this, I won’t talk about how it took the band a while to get warmed up to performing live again so that the start of the show lacked a little something. This is, after all, a horribly biased review.)

I’ve been listening to the new album for a few weeks now, and I really like most of it. I was already looking forward to my favorite song on the album, “We Will Make a Song Destroy,” and had expressed this anticipation to the band’s drummer, Pat Sturgeon. So when the show started with six brand new songs, and this one wasn’t one of them, I was worried.

But now I’m getting ahead of myself; sorry, I’m not working with much sleep here. Noise Pop isn’t for sleeping.

The new songs sounded good, all of them pretty different from the versions on Permalight, especially “I’ll Never Leave You,” which morphed from a quiet acoustic track that sounds like it’s being sung as a private lullaby into a more driving rock song being sung as a public promise. “Solitary Gun” brought out the hand clapping for the first time, and I’d love to see it move right to the front of the set, as it is on the album. Just to get the blood pumping.

After this set of new material, the band went into “the oldies section” of the set. This included “Publish My Love,” “Like I Needed,” “Bird on a Wire,” and “Lake Michigan.” Tucked into the middle of all of these crowd favorites was the aforementioned “We Will Make a Song Destroy.” This song absolutely rocked. This is the hardest rocker the band has in the catalog now, and it stands in harsh contrast to the softer sounds found throughout the band’s history.

The capacity crowd got really into it as the set continued, clapping and singing along loudly. When the final encore was played well after midnight, Rogue invited everyone up on the stage to dance, as he explained that the final song, “Permalight,” was about enjoying life and being alive. It’s meant to be a celebration, and it was.

“Everyone sells out to dance music in the end,” explained Zach Rogue just after a performance of their newest single, “Good Morning (The Future).” This song sounds like nothing Rogue Wave has done before, and there was some question if it would fit in with the rest of the band’s melodic rock music. “And we sold out,” he went on.

“Sold out to awesome!” yelled one fan behind me. Indeed.


Rogue Wave Set List from 2/24/2010

Stars and Stripes
Good Morning (The Future)
Per Anger
Solitary Gun
I’ll Never Leave You
Publish My Love
Like I Needed
We Will Make a Song Destroy
Bird on a Wire
Love’s Lost Guarantee*
Lake Michigan*
Cheaper Than Therapy*
Medicine Ball

*with John Vanderslice on backing vocals

Thanks again to Paige K Parsons for sharing her always amazing photos. You can see more of her work at The Color Awesome.

Rogue Wave’s newest album, Permalight, comes out on Brushfire Records on March 2 but you can stream it now on Pandora. (Unless you’re reading this after March 2, in which case I recommend the vinyl, which reportedly sounds amazing.)

Gordon Elgart

A music nerd who probably uses that term too much. I have a deep love for bombastic, quirky and dynamic music.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

thomas February 26, 2010 at 7:26 am

I really enjoy some of the new album. It took me quite a few listens to like Good Morning and I still don’t much care for Permalight. That being said I really liked hearing it all live, but the one downside to new albums and new songs is that some songs disappear. I hope that the future setlists of the tour include some Out of the Shadow gems; Kicking the Heart Out, Postage Stamp World, anything.


David Price February 26, 2010 at 12:27 pm

Is it really nerdy of me that I would love to see the Meta Data from this lead in photo, she’s so good! UGH! I want my shots to come out that well!


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