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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Rooney, The Young Veins and Black Gold at Slim's Last Night

Posted By on Wed, Jun 23, 2010 at 9:14 AM

Robert Schwartzman, Rooney - TAYLOR FRIEDMAN
  • Taylor Friedman
  • Robert Schwartzman, Rooney

The Young Veins
Black Gold
June 22, 2010

Better than: Random! punctuation

For the price of seeing Rooney and two opening acts, the audience at Slim's was also treated to half a Panic! at the Disco concert. Black Gold's Eric Ronick and Than Luu were touring members of Panic! (Turns out you can't abbreviate the band's name without sounding really excited.) Then there's The Young Veins, whose lead singer and guitarist, Ryan Ross and Jon Walker, respectively, were part of the Panic! quartet, departing last year for what they cited as creative differences. Our guess? They had grown weary of such liberal grammar usage. With their debut album, Take a Vacation!, the exclamation point is back in its rightful place. And while I am tempted to take advantage of the one time it might be excusable to pepper a review with random exclamations and splices, I will do so sparingly. So read! on. 

Eric Ronick should consider adding an exclamation to Black Gold to justify how excitable he is. His performance style is theatrical and manic; I would imagine he's strongly influenced by Freddie Mercury and/or David Bowie, although Black Gold's music is more pop-rock. At the keyboard, in between lines, Ronick jerks back in Ray Charles fashion, drops his jaw and bulges his eyes as if startled, and then looks skyward. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Eric Ronick, Black Gold
  • Eric Ronick, Black Gold

Each of the four musicians with Black Gold, including the two touring members, look like they belong in a different band. The bassist is considerably funkier than the rest of them. He rocks an open blazer, and comically, seems to be channeling James Brown instead of the big, yelping notes coming from Ronick. But overall, Black Gold is a wise opening choice to complement Rooney's music. Though they hail from New

York, Black Gold's music and style has a California sensibility. Or maybe the

tropical backdrop, no doubt set up for Rooney, is deceptive.

Jon Walker and Nick Murray, The Young Veins
  • Jon Walker and Nick Murray, The Young Veins

The Young Veins stole the show for me. They just formed last year, but they already have a following among fans who are familiar with their previous affiliations. Some of the many drunk girls in the audience demanded a picture with Nick White, who is also the

keyboardist for indie-pop group Tilly and the Wall. The Young Veins are a total throwback to bands like The Beatles, The Kinks and The Beach Boys -- especially with their single "Change." Ross sure looked the part with moppy hair and a purple jacket, tie and pinstriped pink pants. If not for their panicky past, The Young Veins might consider pretending they are British, since they very well could and should be.

Ryan Ross, The Young Veins
  • Ryan Ross, The Young Veins

Then, surprise! The Shins come on next. Not really, but for some reason, Slim's has "Sleeping Lessons" playing overhead even as the curtain rises for Rooney to begin playing.

"Let me fucking hear you," Robert Schwartzman says when he comes to the microphone. Whoa, whoa. This is a Rooney concert, is it not? Then I have a panic! attack. It is a Rooney concert, but a very different kind of Rooney concert than what I expected from when I first heard the band on the show The O.C. in 2004. Their floppy long hair is gone. They've traded in feel good songs like "I'm Shakin'," with its strong melodic hook, for a heavier rock sound. Fortunately, a couple songs from their new self-produced album, Eureka, such as "I Can't Get Enough," still have the beachy, bop-along hits that define the band's distinctive style.

click to enlarge Robert Schwartzman and Taylor Locke, Rooney
  • Robert Schwartzman and Taylor Locke, Rooney

Rooney gave fans the chance to vote for which songs they wanted to hear on the tour. Oddly, they selected a song called "Paralyze" from the band's second album. In the middle of the number, Schwartzman freezes, as if indeed paralyzed, kid you not, and then resumes playing. The crowd goes apeshit for this brilliant lyrical interpretation and you can tell he is rather pleased with himself and his execution. Hey, whatever gets you cheers, buddy.

The energy doesn't taper off here; everyone is jumping and getting into "Shakin'," which the band goes out with on a good, if not predictable note. And so the happy illusion that we're poolside ends as the band packs up and prepares to do meet and greets afterward. It's back outside into windy San Francisco. I spot a boy hovering at the bus stop talking to his friends: "I'm fucking sh-sh-sh-shakin' out here, guys."

Critic's Notebook:

Personal bias: I prefer underdog Robert Schwartzman as he appeared in the Julie Andrews and Anne Hathaway movie The Princess Diaries.

Favorite Rooney Song: "Pop Stars" from the first, self-titled album

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Taylor Friedman


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