Rooney's Ruffled Call to the World
Teeny-boppers made a comeback on Tuesday night at the Fox Theatre in Boulder for Rooney's 2008 tour, Calling the World. Rooney's all ages show brought in an eclectic mix of concert-goers: teenagers, college students, parents, and those oh so young pre-teens. Alabama band The Bridges, consisting of four girls and one guy, kicked off the night with a short set of folk, Dixie rock. Brooklyn boys Locksley followed up with a high energy, charismatic set. Fast paced songs with audience participation and a strong stage presence from Locksley led up to a lively, up-beat performance from California headliners', Rooney.
At the instant frontman Robert Schwartzman placed foot on stage in the presence of a majority female audience, the place turned into The Beatles concert on the Ed Sullivan Show. Each time any musician came downstage to play nearly in the audience, shrill screams cut through the air as hands strove to make even the slightest of contact. Between outbursts of screams and the whining solos of lead guitarist Taylor Locke, Schwartzman's lyrics were a struggle to decipher. Bassist Matthew Winter, drummer Ned Brower, and keyboardist Louis Stephens were set more in the background during Rooney's set, as Schwartzman and Taylor seemed to be the biggest attractions among the female crowd.
Perhaps the most impressive aspect of the show was the virtuosic presentation by Locke. While he did not have many solos of significant length, Locke's performance resembled that of one not so often found of an alternative rock or pop band guitarist in this day. Great speed in dexterity and strikingly high chords accented with slides, feedback, and various distortion pedals combined with tight jeans, a low-buttoned shirt, tan boots, and dark shaggy hair created in Locke a spin-off image of Led Zeppelin's Jimmy Page. However, though Locke's artistry proved impressive for those not drooling over Schwartzman, the sheer literal volume of his performance was excessively powerful and even a bit overwhelming. While Locke held his wide leg stance with guitar tilted up, Schwartzman was at center stage, his voice obliterated by Locke's high tension notes played towards the bridge of his guitar. As a guitarist, Schwartzman displayed a good sense of talent, but his vocals are his main appeal as frontman, and on Tuesday night that was lost as audience members strove to read his lips in desire of singing along.
High energy stage presence and alternative rock songs with an up-beat pop sound about them drew each and every person in, making for an exciting atmosphere with strong audience involvement. What was lost through high pitched screaming and high voltage amplifiers was made up for in an overall performance that incited all members of the audience to dance and sing along. Plenty of floor space was still available by the end of the show, lending to a presumably not sold out event, attracting pre-teens and their parents as well as boyfriends dragged along by their girlfriends. Cover songs "Movin' Out" by Billy Joel and "The Weight" by The Band were interdispersed with a balance of songs off of Rooney's 2003 self-titled album and their 2007 album, "Calling the World," making for an entertaining and crowd pleasing set for the seemingly small, yet dedicated, audience.