Rogue Wave | 03.13.06

Somebody get Zach Rogue a vintage snowflake sweater and dark-rimmed glasses and we’ll have ourselves an anti-hero to hold onto.


w/Dirty on Purpose & Sam Champion
Blueberry Hill’s Duck Room, St. Louis 

I’m not sure what I was expecting when I walked into the Duck Room at Blueberry Hill to see Rogue Wave. Perhaps a quietly buzzing, polite pop show, or the Monday night comedown orchestrated by the band’s unnatural ability to maneuver through familiar territory without ever sounding too familiar. The night kicked off with Brooklyn’s Sam Champion playing workingman’s rock ’n’ roll—if your work happens to involve a computer and a desk chair that doesn’t squeak when you tap your foot—in an efficient, enjoyable, but ultimately forgettable set. They never really offered much of a threat to the audience’s ever-audible babble, and they didn’t seem to mind.

Dirty on Purpose was an early favorite to steal the show, thundering through their first two songs, but the band ended up drifting off all dolled up in their shoegaze gauze with nowhere to go but back to the uninhabited merch table. Lesson learned: This was not the ideal audience for spinning out Sigur Rós and Yo La Tengo–quoting soundstorms with no discernible direction. This crowd wanted to bob their heads, not nod them.

The crowd got what they came for with Rogue’s hour-long highlight reel. Two albums in, the band already has plenty of scene-stealers. Efficiently rocking through “Are You on My Side,” “You,” and crowd-pleaser “Love’s Lost Guarantee,” they matched the melodies with more energy and a fuller sound than is present on record. Encore cover “Every Day” was a bright spot for two reasons: one, it’s a great Buddy Holly song, and two, it proved how great Zach Rogue’s own songs are that they can share the stage comfortably with Buddy Holly’s shadow.

In all honesty, for all the insistent praise I’ve handed out, the band sometimes seems like listening to the Shins without the baggage of admitting that you like the Shins to your hipster friends. They’re a new edition of OC mixtapes, but everyone who ever hummed along to Out of the Shadows knew that’s where they were headed. Still, they seem to always be a Garden State away from breaking into your younger sister’s playlist. My theory: They aren’t awkward indie-kid enough just yet. Somebody get Zach Rogue a vintage snowflake sweater and dark-rimmed glasses and we’ll have ourselves an anti-hero to hold onto. Maybe a better guess is that Rogue Wave play to the twentysomething crowd who don’t have the energy anymore to go around changing their life just because Natalie Portman says so. But they do manage to come out for the Monday night comedown show, leave with lives intact, maybe just a little lifted for the Tuesday morning traffic jam.

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