Rooney/The Redwalls/Everybody Else
Chain Reaction, Anaheim, CA
Chain Reaction is an all-ages club in Anaheim. I thought that meant people under 21 were allowed to mix with grown-ups. What I discovered is that “all-ages” meant that the bar served soft drinks and candy, offering sugar and amped-up caffeinated drinks as the only way to intoxicate yourself. As the night wore on I noticed that I was the oldest person at the club who hadn’t brought their child.
I walked in during an acoustic set by 2/3rds of the band Everybody Else. Carrick Gerety played guitar and sang while Mike McCormack played keyboards and guitar. The tunes were catchy and had lyrics that told interesting stories. They closed out their set with an upbeat number that had a Bo Diddley beat.
The Redwalls stole the evening with their fun, energetic rock ‘n’ roll that harkens back to the early days of the British Invasion. Their music was guitar-driven and their vocals created great harmonies together. Throughout the evening, three different members sang lead, keeping their sound fresh and interesting. They played their current single “Thank You” and never missed the song’s horn accompaniment. They had a humorous song about the FCC, showing a serious side without losing their playfulness. “What A Shame” is a big bluesy number that was performed with surprisingly great power and emotion for such a young group. This promising quartet out of Chicago, vocalist/guitarist Logan Baren, 22, vocalist/bassist Justin Baren, 20, vocalist/guitarist Andrew Langer, 20, and drummer Ben Greeno, 21, is releasing De Nova, their second album and Capitol Records debut, on June 21.
The headliner of the evening was Rooney, a five-piece band from Los Angeles. I had previously heard and enjoyed their single “Blueside,” a rock and roll song with a Beach Boys chorus. They are playing small clubs to showcase songs from their upcoming album. Rooney has an interesting sound, embracing pop and rock while never fully committing to either one, which explains the large number of teenage girls at the show. That, and the fact that lead singer Robert Carmine is good-looking. Songs from their first album were mixed in the set list, such as “The Girl Has Love” and “I’m Shakin’,” but they didn’t sound noticeably different from the new ones. A large part of the crowd sang along to the whole set, especially during “If It Were Up To Me.” Taylor Locke is a good guitar player but this pop-rock sound appears to be stifling his gifts. Bass player Matthew Winter seemed bored as if he wanted to be elsewhere.
Chain Reaction has no air conditioning except for a large fan that blew cool air in through the back door between sets. The room was sweltering while bands played, evidenced by the young female casualties who were suffering from early stages of heat exhaustion outside the building. I could only take so much myself and since Rooney didn’t compel me to soldier on, I left before the club’s curfew was reached. If The Redwalls had been on stage, I wouldn’t have noticed the sauna-like conditions because their music envelops your senses.