Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Rogue Wave - Saturday, April 17th

Things have not been easy for Oakland's Rogue Wave over the last couple of years, but you would not have known it from their energetic performance at the first of two sold-out shows at, new Chicago hot-spot, Lincoln Hall. Zach Rogue may have spent a good portion of last year paralyzed and in pain from to slipped discs, but the brighter outlook found on the latest album came through just as well live.

The band dove into the set with half-a-dozen tracks off their latest release, Permalight. Opener, "Stars And Stripes" felt like it was all vocals and beat, with the two guitars barely audible. Things got a little better with the thumping rhythm and flickering disco ball of the danceable "Good Morning", but the energetic, synth-fuelled party track was still largely lacking guitar to balance out the sound. A quick switch of guitars on "Per Anger" for Rogue helped add a little oomph missing from the first couple of songs. It helped that Rogue's voice began to warm up some, to reveal the same compelling frayed tenor found on the albums.

The acoustic-based "Sleepwalker" and "Solitary Gun" served as definite highlights out of the batch of new material, but even they seemed to lack the same spark found on the album versions. It was clear at the show just how much care went into fine tuning the songs in the studio, which failed to translate in a live setting. The crowd roared enthusiastically when Rogue asked if they wanted to hear some older material, and a few moments into fan-favorite "Publish My Love" revealed why. The older material has a much heavier, more guitar-driven thrust to them. It would serve the new songs well if the band roughed them up a bit live, similar to the more aggressive turn they gave "Permalight" at the end of the encore.

Without exception, the older material trumped the new songs on-stage; despite how great the new material plays on album. Nothing off Permalight came close to matching the feel-good rock-stomp of "Harmonium" or the drum-happy euphoria of "Lake Michigan". It felt a bit like the band has a little work to do with the new material live, but the songs, and the band, are certainly good enough for them to tweak them into crowd-pleasers quickly.

Stars And Stripes
Good Morning
Per Anger
Solitary Gun
I'll Never Leave You
Publish My Love
Every Moment
Bird On A Wire
Lake Michigan

Kicking The Heart Out

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