Rooney’s return to stage meets underwhelming crowd

Adrienne Underwood, Senior Staff Reporter

Khaki-clad dads nursing IPAs swayed awkwardly to Rooney’s show Oct. 15 as part of the band’s Groundswell tour with Royal Teeth and Swimming With Bears.

The show took place at One-Eyed Jack’s, which seemed at first like an unusual location for a rock concert. As the concert got rolling, and the crowd peaked, only half the venue was filled with a mellow, older audience that struggled to meet the level of energy that a band like Rooney merits.

Popular in the 2000s, California-based Rooney is known for guitar-pop hits such as “Blueside,” “Daisy Duke” and “When Did Your Heart Go Missing?” It since took a six-year hiatus that resulted in the release of the album “Washed Away” in May last year. During this period, lead singer-songwriter Robert Schwartzman explored other creative projects such as film projects and composing.

“I just felt like I need time to refocus myself, recharge my creative juices,” Schwartzman said.

Time and new direction has resulted in a new sound for Rooney. Fans jammed to the spin that Rooney’s new sound put on old hits like “Blueside” and “Can’t Get Enough.” Schwartzman is the only original member of Rooney on “Washed Away,” which features guitarist Taylor Johnson and drummer Joel Plotnik, among others. Incorporating new musicians and aiming for a “more guitar-focused record” has transformed Rooney’s new sound on “Washed Away.”

“It’s hard to know why, if this guy plays drums and this guy plays drums, and they play the same exact drum beat at the same tempo, why does it sound different?” Schwartzman said. “So there’s just something about this human error or human personality that creates a certain feeling in the music.”

Upbeat as ever, the transformed Rooney encouraged head-bobbing and foot tapping from the reserved adult crowd. The aging fanbase paralleled the tinge of nostalgia coloring the performance of Rooney classics, as Schwartzman hyped up the half-hearted crowd following a lukewarm reaction to the show’s closing anthem of “When Did Your Heart Go Missing?” The band aspires to focus on maintaining a presence in a changing music industry.

“What’s it gonna take to keep the ball rolling?” Schwartzman said. “Today’s music industry — what do people want from music today? … It’s just a different time. I have to figure out what to do with myself musically in today’s world. It’s not what it used to be. The one thing I can be and I think that every artist needs to be today is consistent because if you take time away where you don’t put records out or tour people just kind of move on.”