The set was kind of funny at first. There were two drum sets next to each other, eight guitars on a rack in the back, a keyboard, and a few more guitars sprinkled on the stage for good measure. It almost looked like the front window at a music store.
New York band JBM took the stage first and sounded pleasant and boring. It was the night of his first record release, so he had a lot to celebrate for, but he didn’t really convey that at all.
Next on the opening set list was Man Miracle, who rocked the house pretty well in the style of Vampire Weekend meets Talking Heads, but also pretty long. By the time they were done with their 13-number set (bad luck!), I was looking around at the bearded 30-something hipsters in the audience and wondering how much longer we could go on.
Zach Rogue and Rogue Wave took the stage at 11:20 (about an hour later than I expected). As Rogue and the gang took the stage, Zach Rogue raised his fist into the air as if to say, “It’s ok, I’m here. Man Miracle are a fun band, but you didn’t come to see them.” The band then proceeded to play poppy new material from Permalight, their latest album whose cover graced the bass drum. I am admittedly not a fan of this album, but it sounded surprisingly good in a concert atmosphere.
Rogue Wave is a fun and interesting band, but their songs tend to have the same pattern: Vocals with light accompaniment interrupted with heavy drums/synth/guitar (delete appropriate). This pattern was particularly evident at the Fox on April 13, but it was worth it, all the same.
On the seventh song, Rogue Wave broke from their new material to play old favorites like Lake Michigan and Every Moment, two beautiful songs. These numbers gave more diversity to the sound of the concert, and sort of acted as a comparison from then to now for the band.
Zach Rogue’s banter in between songs was surprisingly witty. While Dominic East would play short guitar riffs to prepare for the next song, Zach would whisper anecdotes to the crowd’s ears about how he wrote songs on paper bags for wine bottles in grocery stores and how the band nearly didn’t make it to Boulder.
If it hadn’t been for the killer ending, the concert really wouldn’t have been anything special.
Halfway through their third to last song, the band, lead by drummer Pat Spurgeon, broke protocol and went on an all out assault on percussion. Literally every member of the band was banging their drum while the audience clapped along in a climax of sonic unity. After that, Rogue Wave had won the crowd over so much that they could have gotten away with murder.
But they didn’t want to calm down. They continued their triumph in the last two pieces with raw guitar power and epic synth. As they finished their second to last song and started thanking everyone for attending, the crowd was already getting ready for the encore.
Not wanting to beat around the bush, Rogue Wave came back out to play only a minute and a half after they left. First they paid tribute to their former selves with a bluesy piece Zach Rogue wrote years ago. Finally, they ended their encore the only proper way, with the title track “Permalight,” a pop-o-licious dance number that had both opening acts involved, and the audience as well.
It was really the return to classics that got Rogue Wave in the groove entirely. On “Every Moment,” the band had complete control over itself, changing tempo and mood effortlessly. They were all sounds at once, and every color in the rainbow.
Zach Rogue’s occasional minute flubbing of intricate vocals along with some dynamic issues limited the band to nearly awesome early on in their performance. However, once the end was in sight and they were playing some old favorites, the band achieved awesome.