NADA SURF and ROGUE WAVE at Lee's Palace, March 11. Tickets: $15. Attendance: sold out. Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNN
I always imagine that when all-boy bands tour together, the overall experience falls into one of two categories: either a wild groupie-shagging Kid-Rock-'n'-Scott-Stapp-style sausage party or a jovial Boys' Own Adventure akin to sojourning at an all-dude summer camp.
Judging from the camaraderie at Saturday's Nada Surf / Rogue Wave indie rockathon, the bands' joint tour sat in the latter category. Even if the beaming members of Rogue Wave hadn't sighed about parting ways with their "brand-new great friends," their energy could've tipped you off to the fact that the Lee's gig marked the last hurrah of a month-long road trip.
The combo of good company and non-stop performing has rallied Rogue Wave, whose muscular approach to their tunes constituted a massive leap from the Death Cab-with-smallish-balls ethos of their recorded material.
Frontman Zach Rogue , obviously in much better spirits than the slightly moody dude who faced fans at the 'Shoe last November, ripped into his effects-heavy guitar solos with the goofy gusto of a 12-year-old banger emulating a Metallica LP. He even pulled off the crashing intro to Publish My Love, which on disc uses the echoing carapace of a baby grand piano for maximum reverb.
Rogue and his pals also revelled in the addition of an extra member Nada Surf's Matthew Caws clutched his beer stage-side throughout their set, filling in harmonies and tambourine jangles on every other song.
Though Rogue Wave returned the favour when Caws and his band stepped up, somehow Nada Surf's set lacked the openers' infectious glee.
Despite the fact that they pulled out a handful of party tricks giant fish-eye mirrors suspended over the stage, inside-jokey banter, pulling local songster Howie Beck onstage for a cameo Nada Surf's jagged variations on the theme of love seemed a bit too by rote.
Their most unexpectedly exciting moment came during a cover song, after drummer Ira Elliot shared stories of hangin' with Lee's bartender Lyn McNeill at New York's Danceteria in the 80s. Apparently, McNeill opened Elliot's mind to the then relatively unknown Smiths; in homage, Caws and co. played a delicately moving acoustic guitar version of There's A Light That Never Goes Out.