Monday, June 16, 2008

Rooney Heat Up Irving Plaza (NY), 6.15.08

Summer doesn't "officially" start until the end of this week, but L.A. band Rooney brought a piece of the season to The Fillmore New York at Irving Plaza on Sunday night, playing an upbeat set for a venue full of screaming fans.

The band played a hefty mix of songs from their self-titled debut and last year's Calling the World, along with a couple of covers and a bonus track titled "Get Away." Fans greeted each song with enthusiasm, singing along to favorites such as "Blueside,""I'm Shakin',"Are You Afraid?" and "When Did Your Heart Go Missing?" I actually had a chance to see Rooney last year before Calling the World was released, and while the music was really catchy, it was a lot more fun to hear the songs now that I'm more familiar with them.

The music was a perfect blend of pop rock, occasionally psychedelic guitars and keyboards, and some very '80s-inspired riffs. Lead singer Robert Schwartzman was oozing with charm throughout the night and was clearly well aware of his adoring fans, even teasing them at one point by pretending he was about to stage dive.

The night ended with a two-song encore, with Schartzman playfully spraying a bottle of water into the crowd as the band took the stage again. After performing "If it Were Up To Me" from their debut, Rooney launched into a rollicking cover of The Beatles' "Helter Skelter," with guitarist Taylor Locke and drummer Ned Brower trading vocal duties. As the song came to an end, Schwartzman leaned into the crowd and fans swarmed him, reaching to touch his guitar and hair.

While Rooney's set was exciting in itself, their opening acts also put on some very strong performances. The Bridges, consisting of four siblings and their cousin Brittany Painter on lead vocals, were on first and I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised. The band played songs featuring a good amount of piano-centric pop and lush harmonies from their recently-released debut album, Limits of the Sky. Judging by the cheers and applause, it seems that a lot of people appreciated their set.

That being said, it was Locksley — the second opening act — who really seemed to set the tone for the night. The Brooklyn-based group were on fire from the moment they took the stage, jumping all over the place, and climbing on top of amps and speakers as their set went on. The music was equally energetic, guitar-heavy and full of pounding rhythms. Their cover of The White Stripes' "Hotel Yorba" was a perfect illustration of their garage rock influences.

Locksley managed to keep the crowd screaming with excitement throughout their performance and at one point, it almost felt a bit like the second coming of Beatlemania. Thanks to a mix of high energy, good music, and fun-filled audience interaction, it seems that the members of Locksley made some new fans during the night — a pretty impressive feat, considering how many opening acts tend to leave audiences cold.

(You may also view this review here).

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