Last Night: The Rosebuds at the Independent
November 24, 2008
Words by Melissa Baron
Better Than: Staying at home and lamenting that Gossip Girl isn't on this week.
Listening to the Southern drawl of Rosebud's lead male vocalist Ivan Howard summoned up images of big backyard BBQs, little forest animals and some good ol' small town hospitality. The band was friendly, appreciative and well mannered -- just like you'd expect from a bunch of Raleigh, North Carolina natives. Their songs contained references to birds and flowers and foxes, things we don't often see in the city but sure wish we could.
Howard explained to the crowd the origins of the song "Nice Fox" on their new album Life Like released last month on Merge Records. Howard and bandmate Kelly Crisp once bragged to everyone they knew about the fox that still lived in their neighborhood. The valued the novelty of having such a precious and rare piece of nature in their own backyard. One day Howard was pulling an old barn down in his yard (yes, these people have yards that are big enough to have barns on them) and he was pulling the barn down slowly so he could inconspicuously empty the wood planks into city garbage cans instead of renting one. When he was nearly finished, he pulled up one of the last planks and found a dead fox. Howard and Crisp decided to bury the fox and on the cross they wrote "nice fox." That's just the kind of band they are.
The pitfall of their live performance isn't their music. Last night they sounded fantastic. The songs translate well from recording to stage (it's amazing how that can happen when you play instruments and not computers) and their vocals were lovely. They were just too eager, too friendly and too inclined to make the performance interactive. Things like sing-alongs and dance-alongs began innocently and sweetly enough, but they needed a cap on how much audience participation occurred. The first instance began with banter about a "2009 dance craze" that started in Portland, OR, last night but that they wanted to bring to San Francisco. The dance enacts the lyrics in the song "Bow to the Middle." After teaching the dance from the stage, Crisp got on the floor to dance with the very receptive audience. Following the dance were several opportunities for the crowd to sing along on the "wah oohs" and catchy choruses. This participation was heavily encouraged by Howard. It was all a little too precious.
The set list included a variety of songs drawing from all of their albums. They played "Cape Fear," "Cemetery Lawns," "Hold Hands and Fight," "Leaves do Fall," "Bow to the Middle," "Nice Fox," and others. The eclectic crowd of hip moms, last year's hipsters (complete with trucker hats, John Deere shirts, colored denim and a Kanye West shirt), reformed punks and infrequent show-goers enjoyed every moment of audience-friendly interaction. Couples cozied up in the seats along the walls with beers in hand bopping their heads while others rocked out on the floor. The Rosebuds just know how to bring their Southern hospitality from coast to coast. Hopefully next time they'll be a little less indulgent.
Personal Bias: I'm a city girl. Maybe I just like my musicians a little less cutesy and my audiences a lot more pretentious.
Random Detail: The Rosebuds had puffy painted shirts that were for sale at the show.
By the Way: The band heads down to LA tonight if you need to see them once more before they leave California.