Rooney @ Cafe Du Nord
More than an hour before the doors opened to Cafe Du Nord, the all-ages crowd formed a thick, sloppy line that extended far past the row of Victorian flats along Market Street. Los Angeles band, Rooney, draws a 99% female audience, and the 8 males over 35 surely stuck out like a pimple on the face of a pre-teen fan front & center.
Opening act, The Redwalls, were a heavyweight contender to be reckoned with. Looking more like young versions of the Small Faces and The Kinks, the 4-piece band completely stunned the crowd with their brand of Brit-Pop-Gone-Indie-Rock. The Chicago four-piece (vocalist/guitarist Logan Baren, 22, vocalist/bassist Justin Baren, 20, vocalist/guitarist Andrew Langer, 20, and drummer Ben Greeno, 21) are edgy and very polished for a band with members just barely 22 years of age and under, regardless, the on-stage maturity of The Redwalls entertained as they swapped instruments along with lead vocal duties.
After a rousing set, the lag time between the end of The Redwalls’ set and the highly anticipated start of Rooney’s was unbearable for some fans and most started to sit on the low stage and on the floor. Some waited two years for Rooney to return, but in those two years since their performance at Slim’s, they have all matured with a more polished rock vibe that leaves the retro-pop influences behind with their debut album. The natives were restless but managed to make enough noise to get the band on stage and Rooney opened with standard “If I Were Up to Me” followed by retro-tinged “Sorry Sorry” and soon after, “Stay Away” made easy favorites.
No strangers to frighteningly excited fans, Rooney’s sold-out show was easily the loudest and most rambunctious event this year. With song titles and individual band names being screeched out, it was nearly impossibly to hear the keyboards played by Louis Stephens and the basslines by Matt Winters. Robert Carmine strongly declared that the band will never again play venues like the Fillmore (favoring a more intimate spot like Cafe Du Nord), repeatedly shaking his head ‘no’ and then launching into booty-wiggling “Shakin” and “Ghost,” a new and more rockin’ tune from their forthcoming album, yet unnamed. After closing the set with “Simply Because” the band mates attempted to leave the stage but got quickly tangled up with the front row residents and the two photographers who were perched at the side stage, which was heavily guarded.
After about 5 minutes of straight screaming and heavy coaxing, Rooney struggled to avoid the low-hanging monitors and appease the crowd with their most popular anthem, “Paralyzed”. Carmine’s vocals soared, sounding more grown-up than ever before, and Taylor Locke’s stellar guitar riffs left the entire audience in a hot, spastic frenzy, far from being…well, paralyzed.