Rogue Valley CD-release at First Avenue, 8/13/10
|Photo by Steve Cohen|
Unlike their show at the Fitz, in which their "openers" Jeremy Messersmith and JoAnna James were folded into Rogue Valley's performance as collaborators, Friday night's show was more of a straight-ahead rock show with individual sets by openers Total Babe and Communist Daughter. It was the first time in the Mainroom for both bands, and Communist Daughter especially shined on the big stage, causing the crowd to swell to its largest point of the evening and sing along to many of the songs.
|Photos by Steve Cohen|
Rogue Valley were up against a few challenges at this show: Not only was the energy of Communist Daughter's set hard to follow, but the band has set the bar ridiculously high for themselves. The band brought in a few similar elements from their show at the Fitz, setting up a full bookshelf, phonograph, and gumball machine behind them, but the props seemed more distracting than they did at the theater, sticking out in the black expanse of the stage. A pair of dancers (including Rogue Valley bassist Linnea Mohn's sister Eva, who some might remember as the singer from Coach Said Not To) also seemed somewhat lost on the big stage, and with the exception of a song that they spent bouncing on trampolines they were swallowed up in the dark shadows behind the band.
|Photos by Steve Cohen|
Perhaps it was intentional, but the band took a long time to build into their first climax, and it took most of the performance to arrive at the more upbeat songs from this summer's The Bookseller's House. "Racecar Driver" was a standout and one of the most exciting points of the night, as was a song that featured Mohn's soulful and powerful voice (I always knew she could sing, but wow! Not like that).
The band came back for an encore and played one of lead singer Chris Koza's older songs, "Straight to Video" off his 2008 solo release The Dark, Delirious Morning, bringing the energy way up for the finale and ending the show on a high note.
Personal bias: I've been following Koza for about five years now, and have attended all but one of his CD-release shows throughout his career. The show wasn't bad in any respect, but paled in comparison to some of his previous shows.
The crowd: Young and fairly tame.
Overheard in the crowd: "That Communist Daughter set was fucking spiritual!"
Random Notebook Dump: I only caught the tail end of Total Babe's set, but they seem to get better every time I see them.