Descended Like Vultures
Rogue Wave and Mazarin @ Bowery Ballroom 12/2/05
Having never heard openers Mazarin, I didn’t know quite what to expect, though I’d heard good things about them and that their sound was of a neo-shoegazer persuasion. Although this was partially true, it was only half the story. At first, I wasn’t too keen on them as I noticed that their singer’s voice was buried in the mix and that he really didn’t have too much stage presence, but after a while I began to notice that the music was so heavy and powerful (though still dreamy and psychedelic) that it didn’t make much of a difference as the singer’s voice was just another instrument in their wall of sound. Thus, if I were to make comparisons to early ‘90s stalwarts, I’d have to say that they reminded me more of say, Catherine Wheel or Swervedriver though they really sounded like neither. Regardless, they represent the more rockin’, visceral side of that movement and time period, though they’re original enough to stand on their own merit.
Rogue Wave’s Descended Like Vultures is currently one of my favorite albums and one of 2005’s finest offerings and since I’d never seen Zach Rogue and company before, I was really looking forward to their set. I’d like to say that they didn’t disappoint and while I enjoyed the set thoroughly, I did think that a few things could have been better. The one song that Rogue did entirely on his own, which was the first song in the encore, was noticeably better than many of the songs in the main set where he was backed by a full band. Rogue is a great songwriter and a fine vocalist to boot, but the arrangements that he chose to employ to make the songs work in a live setting didn’t always play to their melodic strengths, though they seemed to get it together more towards the end. In particular, a jaw-dropping version of Descended Like Vultures’ stunning “Love's Lost Guarantee” with the band was the highlight of the evening, but the other high points not mentioned were the quieter numbers like “California” (also from Descended Like Vultures). Thus, while I’d go see Rogue Wave again and I look forward to their next record, what I’d really like to see is a Zach Rogue solo performance.
You can also read this review here, where it was first published.