Rogue Wave’s emotional homecoming at The Independent

Rogue-WavePhotos by Marc Fong // Written by Mike Frash //

Rogue Wave //
The Independent – San Francisco
July 12th-13th, 2013 //

A chatty Friday crowd greeted indie rock veterans and Bay Area locals Rogue Wave for a family and friends homecoming show, the first of a double-banger at The Independent in SF. After three-plus-years abstaining from regular touring, Zach Rogue & the rest of Rogue Wave exhibited remarkable crowd control abilities throughout the evening by radiating positive energy, connecting with fans through engaging stage banter and by presenting live music that was better than their studio recordings.

Halfway through the warm, cinematic favorite “Eyes” three-songs in, some of the crowd couldn’t settle down, as a persistent buzzy layer of sound from the fourth wall intermingled with the song’s aural simplicity. Zach Rogue didn’t seem bothered, as he was clearly living in the moment and taking it all in. But during the next song, a blistering “Publish My Love”, the combination of band and house lighting drew everyone’s full attention for the remainder of the night. The Rogue Wave frontman and driving creative force projected a “living in the moment” mantra — his eyes searched the room looking for familiar faces, and he said ‘we only live for tonight’ more than once.


Zach’s “be where you are” mentality led to some very memorable moments, including one during the intro to “Chicago x 12”. Zach put on his serious face, and said “Life is full of surprises. In 2006 we were here for a benefit for Pat”, as Zach pointed at his drummer and song-crafting collaborator.

Seven years ago, Pat Spurgeon was in desperate need of a second kidney transplant, as he was only born with one kidney that failed when he was a teenager. The group put on a benefit show at The Independent to help pay for medical costs and bring awareness to Pat’s life-or-death search for a donor match. By 2007, Pat had received a kidney and underwent successful transplant surgery January 12. The quick mention most likely drew a couple tears from the close friends and family in the room.

It’s hard to believe a band so musically talented, with a plump catalogue now after releasing their very good fifth LP Nightingale Floors in June, isn’t more popular. Have many of the faithful fans from the mid-aughts moved on to a suburbain home life with 2.5 kids and the white picket fence?


Before “California”, the final song of the night, Zach announced he and his partner were expecting a child. Mr. Rogue had shown flashes of emotion in his face while waxing philosophically earlier in the show — “You never know who’s going to walk through that door” and “Change is inevitable” were stated with conviction and grace. As Zach launched into their flagship song, Zach said “Here’s to new beginnings.”

The tone of Rogue Wave’s music and the content of their songwriting adds up to a life affirming live music experience, but Friday felt extra special with Zach’s charming leadership and candor with the close-nit crowd combined with sophisticated musicianship.



The set started with new songs ended with ecstatic classics — The new material from Nightingale Floors translated wonderfully live. Rogue Wave are at their best when they build up songs to an emotional wall of sound apex.

“Figured It Out”, one of the best tracks from Nightingale, was delivered with sincerity, but they didn’t simply put the song to bed as they did in the studio recording. The song developed with sonically swirling layers, finishing with a strong crescendo.

This epic, anthemic outro technique was used throughout the night. But it’s this live expansion of their studio material that is the distinguishing difference-maker that musically made this show so memorable. Also, the psychedelic outros contrasted nicely with the clarity of Zach Rogue’s slightly modulated vocals.

Set-ender “Harmonium” was stretched out with massive, thrashing circular reverberation — something The Independent specializes in providing. Go to any corner of the venue during sustained instrumentation layering and the sound balance is more than stellar.


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