(Rogue Wave at Mojo's via iPhone)
Months and months ago August Forte from Chicago-based Novo Arts sent me some free Earlove earplugs to test out. I'm sorry to say I haven't been to a concert since the not-too-loud Big Smith in March, and I completely forgot to bring the earplugs for that one. I think I had it in my head that I wanted to test them out at a really loud show in a really tiny venue—like Rogue Wave at Mojo's Tuesday night.
Granted, I only showed half of my ears some ear love: my partner in musical crime and I each wore one earplug a piece, but our one protected ear was very happy. The Earlove earplugs are soft, squishy, and unobtrusive. They allow you to hear everything without that muffled feel. It's like turning down the volume on a show without even being aware of it. (If you're reading this, August, we loved the earplugs and need another pair.)
We didn't need the earplugs for JBM, a Brooklyn-based singer with an incredible voice. He performed a soulful, acoustic set before MAN/MIRACLE took the stage and completely switched up the mood. They rattled our brains with machine-gun drum jams and... in went the earplugs. My one exposed ear was sufficiently throttled.
There was a slight delay before Rogue Wave took the stage. My friend and I spent some time talking to a guy he knows who bootlegs shows as a hobby and posts them on his website. Consider him a connoisseur of sorts: he plugs his laptop directly into the soundboard at a show (with permission, of course) and captures his own unique recordings of live sets. He's all geared up for Matt Pond PA next month and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros in June (which makes my significant other cringe; he hates the whole revived-hippie schtick).
Mojo's was full but not packed with a mixed crowd of college hipsters and thirtysomethings. Half of Columbia was probably over at The Blue Note to see OK Go, a fact Rogue Wave themselves alluded to when they took the stage and frontman Zach Rogue said, "Hey, Columbia. We're a little band called OK Go. You might have heard of us?" While the crowd wasn't huge, everyone showed lots of love and cheered when the band asked if they should stay another night in Columbia and play a show at The Blue Note instead of driving to Tulsa as planned.
The set opened with five or six songs from Rogue Wave's latest, Permalight. (They saved the actual song "Permalight" for the encore.) No complaints here: these guys deliver live. Older Rogue Wave is still my favorite, but one new song, "I'll Never Leave You," was less fizzy than some of the latest singles and suggests deeper cuts on Permalight.
The band then launched into old favorites, including "Publish My Love," "Eyes", and "Lake Michigan." JBM and one other guy (he may have been from MAN/MIRACLE) jumped onstage to kick "Lake Michigan" off with a primal drum solo. It was the highlight of the show.
Another highlight was meeting drummer Pat Spurgeon after the show (aka, the "dude with the hair").
Last fall my partner and I watched a PBS special, D Tour, about Spurgeon's search for a kidney donor and the challenges he faced touring and undergoing dialysis. On our way out Tuesday, we stopped him to thank him for the show and ask how he's doing. Spurgeon is (no surprise) a laidback guy. He says he's doing great and seems happy to be playing music again. He told us Rogue Wave is touring again in the fall.
It was a late night, but there was Earlove inside and out. Thank you, August, and thank you, Rogue Wave. My ears are grateful.