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Rogue Wave with Avi Buffalo - First Unitarian Church (Philadelphia, PA) - Thursday, March 4, 2010

13 March 2010

It had been a few years since I’d seen ROGUE WAVE. After touring for 2007’s excellent Asleep at Heaven’s Gate, singer/guitarist/songwriter ZACH ROGUE slipped two discs in his neck and was unable to move around much or play guitar for months. When he finally recovered, he says that he felt like a child, so it’s wonder that their new album Permalight sounds more joyous and “up” than anything they’ve done in the past. As such, it’s appropriate that this show also became a joyous celebration that was unlike any other show of theirs that I’d ever seen or most indie shows in general. I’m getting ahead of myself, though.

Utilizing the pipe organ in the venue (the show was in the church’s sanctuary, so it was seated as well), they opened with the barely minute long “All That Remains” and from there proceeded to play most of Permalight. I have to admit that while I like the new album a lot and that some of the versions they played were more stripped-down than the album versions (particularly the single “Good Morning”), it was the second half of the concert that really made this one memorable.

At some point, a woman came up to the front and started dancing. At this point, everyone was seated and the crowd was pretty sedate. Afterwards, though, it was as if a sea change (or a proverbial “rogue wave” indeed) had overtaken the venue. All of a sudden, the crowd stood, clapped, cheered and a good time was had by all. It also helped that at this point, the band started playing more recognizable material from their first three albums. Highlights included the amazing “Chicago X 12”, the almost-as-amazing “Love’s Lost Guarantee” (from 2005’s also excellent Descended Like Vultures) and Permalight‘s best songs, “We Will Make a Song Destroy” and the R.E.M.-ish “Per Anger”.

For the equally jubilant encore, we got “Kicking the Heart Out”, a song from their debut Out of the Shadow. Additionally, the band was joined by members of the Philadelphia-based a cappella vocal group THE SILVER AGES throughout part of the set.

Openers AVI BUFFALO, recently signed to Rogue Wave’s former label Sub Pop, were a pleasant surprise. Firmly entrenched in FLEET FOXES, BAND OF HORSES, SHINS and MY MORNING JACKET, the namesake vocalist sounds like BEN BRIDWELL or perhaps ROBIN PECKNOLD, but with an even higher register. As they’re all still in their teens, I think they have a lot of promise ahead of them, too. I look forward to their forthcoming debut album.


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