Polyphonic Spree and Rooney The Gothic Theatre October 22, 2007 Better than: Being the sound guy for the Polyphonic Spree, that’s got to be a bitch.
Having Rooney open for Polyphonic Spree was like watching a drunk fight a rooster, followed by Zeus battling Poseidon on Mt. Olympus. Not only are the bands not comparable, they’re not even in the same galaxy.
Rooney was mediocre on every level possible. They play a 60s and 70s California pop shoved through the current indie-rock filter, minus any originality or talent. They were Weezer, but without the good songs. They were a band that would fit perfectly in the b-sides to a not very popular O.C. soundtrack.
The small, but fiercely loyal crowd that sang along to every word would obviously disagree with me. Watching from the upper deck of the not-so-crowded Gothic, I felt like I was a chaperone at the high school dance in Back to the Future. The older crowd and I were all hanging back, watching the people below and wondering what the hell the crazy young kids saw in this music. The 30-somethings next to me made consistently hilarious disparaging remarks about Rooney. I mean honestly, the lead singer would introduce every song by its title, which would then be the line from the lackluster chorus repeated about 50,000 times, and still somehow not be catchy.
Polyphonic Spree then came on a little later and reminded me why they are one of my favorite live bands. They are an orgy for the senses and rock every ounce of energy they have on stage, and with more than 20 people that’s a lot. They are Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory in musical form. They are your elementary choir teacher, on great acid and having a ball, leading his pupils in a sweaty nightclub. They are Arcade Fire with hope and optimism instead of poetic pessimism.
The young, leftover drunk crowd from Rooney didn’t seem to know what to make of the multi-instrumental band. The mix of them and the older, Polyphonic Spree-skewing adults made for an interesting audience. The Spree were much tighter on the newer songs from the Fragile Army than when I saw them right before the CD came out. They also nicely balanced the saccharine older material with the more recent expansive stuff.
Tim DeLaughter is one of those guys that you can’t see doing anything else except fronting a weird rock band. He bops around the stage like an 8-year-old who downed a wheelbarrow full of pixie sticks, always remaining the star of the show with some heavy competition from his energetic and talented band/choir. When he made anti-Bush remarks and chatted the crowd, he came off more like a caffeinated barista than an intellectual Chomsky, but his pure enthusiasm made up for any misgivings.
I had to leave towards the end of the set to get my exhausted friend home who had work early the next day. I left more than satisfied, however, feeling that warm, church-like glow those Texans always engender with their live shows.
Personal Bias: I like good bands and don’t like bands that suck ass.
Random Detail: It’s weird seeing the Polyphonic Spree play to sparse crowds out in Colorado. In Dallas, where I grew up and they originated, they sell out the venue and make it a completely different experience.
By the Way: Whoever put Rooney and the Polyphonic Spree on the same bill together should be forced to play in Rooney.