Thursday, September 14, 2006

Rogue Wave | Higher Ground | Sep 11th

I remember going to the DC Convention Center in 1991 to see Riddick Bowe fight Elijah Tillery. Bowe wasn't the title holder yet but was quickly rising through the ranks. As the hometown kid, he was the main event and we were pretty excited. However, the night turned upside down when the best boxer of the night was welterweight Sharmba Mitchell earlier in the evening. The Bowe fight turned into a debacle as Tillery started kicking Bowe after the first round bell which led to Tillery being disqualified which led to a small riot in the convention center and shots being fired outside. Needless to say, the main event was a disappointment while the undercard shined.

The Rogue Wave show at Higher Ground this week had a similar feeling to it with Foreign Born and Jason Collett playing the part of Sharmba Mitchell and the rest of the undercard.

It was blogger's night at Higher Ground as jds, gjs and I piled into a car and drove up to Burlington for the show. When we found parking in one of the first spaces of the first row, I thought we were in for another horribly attended show. However, I've gotten to the point that I don't worry about it too much. I've developed a bit of a callous to the awkwardness of standing in front of a stage watching a band with a handful of other people.

First up was Foreign Born from California. I had heard a few songs from them and thought they sounded OK but I wasn't expecting a lot. So, perhaps it was a case of having low expectations but from the very first song, Foreign Born sounded great. They were rocking with a tight overlapping compound sound. Simple set-up (acoustic guitar, electric guitar, bass and drums) but with Matt Popieluch charismatic vocals, they were fun to listen to.

They closed their set by inviting Gram from Rogue Wave and and some cute pixie of a lady up on stage to perform "Union Hall". With all of the handclapping involved in that song, it would make a good submission to Contrast Podcast #25 but more on that in a later post (I submitted Super XX Man's "Coulee City" instead).

Here's the best thing I can say about an opening the end of their set, I made a beeline to the merch table to buy their CD On the Wing Now. Here's the downside to pimping a band and their album...I can't find anywhere online that you can buy their album. It may be available only at their live shows. Considering that my copy is numbered "040 of 500", that's probably a good guess. Hopefully, at the end of their tour, they'll make it more available.

Next up was Jason Collett and his band of mustachioed Canadian cowboys. By this point, the room had filled up a bit and it certainly wasn't a poorly attended show. In the end, there were about 100 people in the Showcase Lounge.

When Collett isn't a solo artist, he's a member of the musical collective, Broken Social Scene. However, I wouldn't say his solo sound is in anyway reminiscent of BSS. More alt-country than art rock. The country vibe even extended down to the cowboy boots, flannel shirts, mustaches, bandannas and keyboards clad in roughcut barn siding. However, keep in mind...they're from Toronto.

For the first few songs of the set, I wasn't feeling it for Mr. Collett. It wasn't doing it for me. Perhaps I was still thinking about Foreign Born. However, as the set rolled on, I was won over. Collett's experience on stage came through as he bantered with the crowd and seemed comfortable leading and guiding his own band. He had one funny story about crossing the border into the US earlier that day which had been the fifth anniversary of 9/11. He said they were a bit concerned they would be hassled but they relied on an old trick. When the border agent asked them what kind of music they play, they told him, "Classic rock and oldies". He said the agents always wave the oldies bands through.

By the time, they cranked out "I'll Bring the Sun", I was completely in the bag for Collett. It was another enjoyable set from an opening band. Two for two. It was shaping up as a great night of music.

One last note on Jason Collett and his band...his bass player is one of the tallest musicians I've ever seen. I'm 6'4" and he was well above me. Plus, his torso is average size and it's his legs that are extremely long. Combined with the elongated toe of his cowboy boots and naturally large size of his bass, everything seemed out of proportion. He was a good bassist though; just interesting to watch due to his size.

He should form a band with Matt Berninger of The National and Eric Bachmann of Archers of Loaf and bill themselves as the tallest band in rock history. They'd just need to find a tall drummer. As I think about that lineup, that would be a pretty damn good band.

Last up for the night was the main event, Rogue Wave. Perhaps, it was a matter of having high expectations and having just seen two bands exceed my expectations, but I was disappointed in Rogue Wave. Yes, they have some good songs and when they played those songs, I enjoyed them. However, in general, they seemed lackluster and boring. There was something about Zach Rogue they sort of bugged me. jds put it well when he said, "Whenever I look at that guy, all I can think about it Smashmouth." That's a good way to put it because I felt like Zach was trying too hard to be a rockstar. The perfectly tussled dyed hair, never-ending fussing with his equipment & levels and all-around rockstar demeanor made me feel like he really, really, really wanted to be on the OC. So, that attitude combined with a lifeless performance gave me a bland, paint-by-number sense of the set. Good songs but with a bland delivery.

At one point, while other band members were dealing with equipment issues, the bass player, Evan Farrell, started talking to the audience which explained why the show was fairly well attended. Farrell used to live in Burlington and had plenty of family and friends in the crowd. He said he used to work at Ali Baba's Kebab shop. When a bunch of folks cheered for Ali's, Farrell said, "Oh, I see. You've been drunk before." Good line.

They did play at least one new song. Zach Rogue introduced it as "Ghost". Now, for our 8th anniversary last month, my wife gave me a sweet new camera. A Casio EX-60. This was the first show I had used it at. That's why all of these photos look weird. I was trying out the different settings to see which worked best in minimal light. Well, one of the cool features of the camera is the ability to record movies in good quality. So, I tried it out with the song "Ghost" and uploaded it onto YouTube for your viewing pleasure. It's only a minute long but gives you a little feel for the song and show.

Despite my bitching about Rogue Wave, it was a good night of music. Plus, having a few beers with friends is always a good way to spend a Monday night.

You can read gjs' review of the show on his site, Pages Within. I have no idea when we'll see a review from jds. Busy, busy man these days.

Foreign Born | Into Your Dream | band site
Foreign Born | Union Hall | band site

Jason Collett | I'll Bring the Sun | buy


Anonymous said...

Epic review my man!

jds said...

Why should I try to review when yours are always so great? Well done.

Glad you put the vid up, as Ghost was the only song from their performance that stuck with me.

And thank you x 10000 for the picture of the bassest. It's an image I don't ever want to forget.

Flatlander said...

Glad you guys liked the review.