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Rooney and Black Gold live in Los Angeles at the Fonda Music Box on June 19, 2010, reviewed for Venus Zine:
Rooney and Black Gold Live
Rooney goes pop while Black Gold weasels in the lost album of 2009 in L.A.
June 19, 2010, at the Music Box
By Lily Moayeri
Published: June 23rd, 2010 | 12:00pm
There is something very wrong about going to a rock show at a Hollywood venue when the sun is still out. It is even stranger when the venue lights flip on at the start of the first band’s performance, in this case the New York-based Black Gold. This did not stop the twosome—which expands to a foursome on stage—from playing songs off its debut full-length, 2009’s Rush (R.E.D.), like it was pitch dark and the peak of night. Black Gold’s shows have improved exponentially over time. This, however, has not curbed the band’s penchant for clichéd arena rock face pullings or exaggerated dance moves with instruments as partners. But, Rush is one of the lost gems of last year and is worth checking out, live or otherwise.
An hour and a half later, the Music Box was far from full. With tons of breathing space on the main floor and the balcony closed, it was a sad turnout for the hometown headliners, Rooney. As is always the case for this L.A. quintet, those in attendance—which reliably includes a very young contingent—are dedicated fans, including those wielding the infamous Rooney flag. California always plays a central role, particularly with the backdrop of palm trees at sunset at the Pacific Ocean.
Rooney’s set list is based on audience votes and contains a cross-section of material from its recently released album, Eureka (released on the band’s own California Dreaming label) as well as its 2003 self-titled debut (Geffen) and 2007’s Calling The World. The group, including new bass player Brandon Schwartzel, were ultra-prepared with a tight performance. Vocalist and principal songwriter Robert Schwartzman has a way with a pop hook. This talent is witnessed to a lesser degree on Eureka than on the other albums—and it became even more apparent when classic older numbers such as “Paralyzed” or “When Did Your Heart Go Missing” were played next to newer ones such as the downbeat “Only Friend.”
The audience response reflects this pop factor, reaching frenzied peaks on the sleeper hit “I Should Have Been After You” and the song that put Rooney on the map after it appeared on The O.C., “I’m Shakin’.” An added bonus for the show was Weezer’s Brian Bell joining Rooney for “Stars and Stripes.”
Even if Rooney is losing some of its youthful bounce, it is more than making up for it in improved musicianship. Someone needs to have these camera-friendly guys featured on their teen-geared television show soon so they can regain their pop footing. Only then will Schwartzman be forced to spruce up and get rid of the California boy uniform of wrinkled T-shirt and baseball cap.