Monday, May 03, 2010

Rogue Wave at the El Rey Theater

This may not be shocking but I attended many concerts before starting this blog in 2006. Discovering new bands entails attending lots of shows and showing up for the opening acts. One such show was circa 2003 when I saw The Shins at the Wiltern theater and saw a band called Rogue Wave who opened the show.

After their set, I immediately purchased a copy of their debut album, Out of The Shadow which was later re-released on Sub Pop records. Flash forward seven years, Rogue Wave has established themselves a nice career and recently released their infectiously catchy fourth album, Permalight.


Los Angeles crowds are known for being a tad bit chatty during the opening bands. Concerts are social events and it isn't surprising to see people talk to each other during a show. The fact that it was eerily quiet for JBM says a lot. JBM is a one man show and presumably the initials of Jesse Marchant who released his debut album a few weeks ago entitled, Not Even in July.

I wasn't familiar with his songs but recalled that he opened his set with "Years" that captivated the audience early with its quiet acoustic balladry. While sonically it reminded me of Iron & Wine and early The Album Leaf, JBM's ability to draw in the audience puts him in another class.

It has been said if you want people to listen that you should use a lower tone of voice to force them to be more attentive. JBM certainly got my attention. The other song that blew me away was "From You To Me and Me To You" with its sampled metal slide guitar and percussive rhythm guitar riff built on the spot by JBM. The ovation at the end of his set confirms my suspicions that the crowd enjoyed his set as much as I did.


Talking Heads? Archers of Loaf? Vampire Weekend? Man/Miracle pinched musical moments from all of those bands along with an injection of Oakland funk. Their musical attack was frequent and surprising by taking sharp musical turns mid set. Man/Miracle's latest album is The Shape of Things.

One can hear the paranoia pulsing through "Mulitudes" with its spider crawling guitars. Pat Spurgeon of Rogue Wave did come out to assist on percussion for a few songs and was filming some songs on his iphone. "Hot Sprawl" closed out their set it with its panic stricken guitars and shuffling drums. Rogue Wave did one heck of a job selecting their openers for this tour.

Rogue Wave

The quiet guitar chords of "All That Remains" were lifted by soft pad synthesized keyboards with Zach Rogue's reverb sugary vocals. "What's Up Los Angeles?!" was quickly exclaimed by Rogue before plunging into the upbeat "Stars and Stripes". Rogue Wave is wrapping up the first leg of their tour in support of Permalight and were in razor sharp form.

The excitement and exuberance of the band could be easily identified as this was the last stop before a triumphant homecoming show in the Bay Area. A rumbling Rickenbacker bass line ignited "Good Morning (The Future)" with backing vocals from all members during the chorus. Dominic East was a bundle of energy bunny hopping in his confined area while playing guitar.

Pat Spurgeon laid down some shuffling snare beats for "Solitary Gun" while using his bass drum adorned with the cover of the new album. The cobwebs in your eyes feel of "Sleepwalker" was hypnotic with it murky guitar lines. The parade of new songs continued with the intricate guitar picking work of "I'll Never Leave You" with Rogue coming up to the front of the stage to engage the crowd.

As much as fans enjoyed the new material, the opening bombast of "Publish My Love" garnered a number of cheers from the crowd with the guitars carefully navigating the threshold between overdrive and distortion. The fluid descending notes of bass for "Every Moment" were simply joyous. Prefaced as an angry song and imploring everyone to shake their fists in the air, "We Will Make A Song Destroy" continued to ignite the crowd with it quiet then loud dynamics and foot stomping chorus.

The hits started to come in waves with them working through "Bird On A Wire" and I spotted Cameron Jasper stepping on the footswitch to control the lights in time with the overdrive blasts. A tender rendition of "Eyes" and a stormy "Love's Lost Guarantee" gave way to the drum circle bashing of "Lake Michigan" and closed with "Harmonium". The real treat of the evening was hearing their cover of Depeche Mode's "Shake The Disease" which they had performed earlier during their KCRW session. The unabashed fun of "Permalight" inspired a slew of stage invaders as fans danced the evening to a close.

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