Rooney | 2.23.11

People who had been bobbing their heads to Eisley were now jumping up and down madly—and the music hadn’t even started yet.

The Firebird, St. Louis
The crowd at the Rooney show on Wednesday was giddy with excitement before the show started. Quite a few of them had braved the cold to stand in line outside The Firebird, and perhaps some of their excitement came from simply being warm enough to feel their hands. But in any case, they were ready to hear good, loud music they could sing along with. 
The first opening band was The Old Ceremony, who describe their music as “literate rock,” a title that makes them sound more studious (and less fun) than they are. The lyrics were smart, but the band was also quirky and engaging. They got the crowd clapping along on the first song while lead singer and songwriter Django Haskins passed out musical instruments. At one point he tossed a maraca at someone, claiming that if it hit them in the eye, it was rock-n-roll. The person remained unscathed, and the band played on with Haskins cracking jokes between songs.
Eisley, a group of four siblings and a cousin hailing from Texas, were next. They performed well, though they were perhaps less upbeat than The Old Ceremony. There were a few problems with the tuning at first, which Sherri DuPree, the rhythm guitarist and sometimes-vocalist, handled with a bit of humor and the band as a whole seemed unfazed. They were effortlessly charming, and played some older songs as well as a few from their new album, The Valley.
When Rooney took the stage, the already exuberant crowd became absolutely frenzied. People who had been bobbing their heads to Eisley were now jumping up and down madly—and the music hadn’t even started yet. None of the band members said anything before launching into their first song, though lead singer Robert Schwartzman did grab the hands of a few audience members as well as enveloping a photographer in a huge hug. This was possibly because the photographer was the only one in the front row who didn’t already look ready to pass out from the excitement, though the hug left him a bit dazed.
There were no more hugs after that, but plenty of loud pop-infused rock played with the enthusiasm Rooney always puts into their shows. The second song they played, “Can’t Get Enough,” from their most recent album Eureka had the jubilant crowd singing along at the tops of their lungs. The set list from there was split evenly, with about half of the material coming from Eureka and half from the older albums. No matter how old the songs were, though, it seemed as if everyone in the room knew every word and they played off the energy of those on stage. The past was present in the room; Schwartzman mourned the loss of Mississippi Nights, reminding those in the audience that as young as the band members may be, they’ve been at this for almost 10 years.
Overall, the show was upbeat, bringing together everyone in the audience for a varied but ultimately fantastic musical experience. | Teresa Montgomery

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