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Rogue Wave/Math and Physics Club/The Long Ranger
June 3, 2005 - Neumo's - Seattle, WA
by Katie Sauro

With his boyish good looks and curly blonde hair, Zach Rogue of Rogue Wave (coincidence?) looks more like a pop star pin-up than the lead singer and guitarist of one of Sub Pop’s newest bands. Rogue, however, showed the crowd at Neumo’s that he is more than just a pretty face.

The San Francisco band began their set with several songs from their newest album,
Out of the Shadow, which was released last year. Rogue’s soft, sweet vocals floated over even softer, sweeter music, as the crowd swayed and sang along. His high-pitched, pretty voice was slightly reminiscent of Doug Martsch.  After a few slower, but still upbeat, songs, the band picked it up a little bit, and showed why they are oft-described as pure pop bliss. Their songs varied from folk to pop to psychedelic, with everything from harmonizing vocals to keyboards to wurlitzers, but never wavered in quality.  Highlights of the night included “Every Moment,” which is also featured on the “Napoleon Dynamite” soundtrack, the poppy “Nourishment Nation,” and “Endless Shovel,” all from their Sub Pop debut. The band also played a few new songs that will be included on their upcoming album to be released sometime in the fall. 

The band, including Pat Spurgeon on drums, Evan Farrell on bass, Gram LeBron on guitar, and Rogue, seemed to truly enjoy their time together on stage. The boys seemed to be playing more for themselves than for the crowd, smiling at each other during songs, and laughing and joking in between.  This was a refreshing change from the sullen, ultra-solemn bands that seem to be dominating the stage lately. Rogue Wave had an inimitable, distinct stage presence that made their music even better. 

Opening for Rogue Wave were two local Seattle bands, Math and Physics Club and The Long Ranger. The Long Ranger was a mix of synthesizers, guitar, and break dancing, all colliding into an electronic pop sound that had the relatively small crowd moving. They were fun, but after awhile their songs started sounding the same and blending into one extremely long track. Math and Physics Club is a well-known and well-loved band around Seattle. They are a talented five-piece that play gentle, lush melodies, a la Belle and Sebastian, but MAPC were slightly out of place in the lineup of pop and electronica. Their set was a little boring, and I’ll admit that I left halfway through, walked across the street to the Comet Tavern for cheaper beer, and came back toward the end of MAPC’s set.  All in all, it was clear that Rogue Wave was the band to see that night – the most talented, the most fun, and the most creative. 

Enthusiasm and joy abounds when Rogue Wave takes the stage – emerging both from the band itself and the blissfully happy audience. The fans lapped up every sing-songy chorus, every guitar twang, every pop-perfect note of Rogue Wave’s performance. One extremely happy fan summed it all up: “Dude, the Wave was awesome tonight!”

Friday night was Rogue Wave’s first show of their North American tour, which continues through July 2nd.  For the remainder of the tour they will be playing with another Sub Pop band, the Helio Sequence.