Thursday, June 19, 2008


In 2002, Shannon and I convinced her dad to drive us to Omaha to see our obsession of the moment, the So-Cal rock outfit Rooney, at the now-defunct Ranch Bowl, which also served as a bowling alley, mini-golf course, beach volleyball pit and, of course, bar. With disposable cameras in hand, I captured every moment of the exhilarating set while Shan's dad slept in the minivan parked at the Arby's across the street. I bounced along with Princess Diaries jam "Blueside," felt embarrassingly dirty during "Shakin'" and decided I wanted my future boyfriend (who would obvs be Robert Carmine, duh) to serenade me with "If It Were Up to Me." I left with a signed CD and feelings my adolescent heart didn't know it could feel.

Who's the better Schwartzman: Robert or Jason? I'm willing to argue for either side.

And then six years passed. The heartsickness faded, the music got stale, and I moved on. But what else was I supposed to do? While Rooney had been poised on the brink of breaking big while riding the O.C. success craze, they subsequently misguided their career by delaying the sophomore album release by four years and taking opening slots for the Jonas Brothers and Kelly Clarkson — not exactly the artists a rock band needs to accumulate some credibility (although I'm not too cool to admit that I don't also enjoy a little sugary pop goodness every now and then).

So when I bought tickets to see Carmine (err... wait, I think he changed it back to Schwartzman?) and Co. play at Irving Plaza last Sunday, it was make or break. Either my faith would be restored in this band or I'd be forever jaded. Yes, that was the ultimatum I presented Rooney (and by presented, I mean told Shannon in line). Tough, but fair.

Umm... the only time I've ever envied Mischa Barton. Lucky girl!

And you know what, they did it. I'd forgotten how catchy their retro-rock sound is, how adorable those boys are and how much fun classic bubblegum pop is to bop along with. But besides all of that, what really made me a born-again was Rooney's self-awareness: Before playing a b-side track, Carmine addressed the crowd, asking if anyone knew the band had recorded two full albums between the debut and Calling the World, and then promised to never make fans wait four years for new material. They played a long set because this was Rooney's first headlining tour to support Calling the World — I know, WHAT? That's ridiculous. But here's a tip for next time boys: Don't end with a cover, even if it's a fist-pumping rendition of "Helter Skelter." You've got legit songs of your own. Play them.

Susan (ah, arts blogging.  it's been too long, DI)

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