The Rentals w/ Copeland and Goldenboy – [Live]

Monday, 06 August 2007

Rewind to a Friday night late in 1995: Instead of making out with boys behind the bleachers during a high school football game, my awkward teenage self is home watching MTV at midnight, checking out all the "new" and "experimental" videos. While this is very telling about how the remainder of my teenage (and college, for that matter) years went, I can be thankful for one thing: this was my first exposure to the weirdness that was The Rentals' "Friends of P" video. Geeky musicians in horn-rimmed glasses and thrift-store sweaters? I loved it at first listen.

Fast-forward to around 2000, when I begin dating my first serious boyfriend. I'm at his place, judging him by his music collection while he's out of the room. Something to Write Home About by The Get Up Kids? Good. Suffer by Bad Religion? Very good. Not one, but both albums by The Rentals? I think I'm in love.

And here I am, all grown up in 2007, same boyfriend in tow, seeing The Rentals for the first time. Did I have extraordinarily high expectations? Of course. Did they still impress me? Hell yes.

Tour-mates Goldenboy and Copeland prepped the diverse crowd (with surprisingly few representatives from the aging, nerdy rocker set) with setlists that highlighted each band’s strengths: Goldenboy’s lush melodies and Copeland lead vocalist Aaron Marsh’s endearing piano parts. While both bands seemed to have a number of fans in the audience, it was clear from new Rental Lauren Chipman’s first few notes on the viola who the audience was there to see.

Let me just say this: For a nerdy indie rocker whose most recent solo work was inspired by a hermetic lifestyle in rural Tennessee, Matt Sharp sure can work a crowd. From the band’s opening performance of “Life Without a Brain,” from the upcoming release The Last Little Life EP, to the last encore song, Return of the Rentals’ “These Days,” Sharp was singing, jumping around the stage and enthusiastically thrusting the mic into the crowd for the obligatory audience sing-a-long. (This energy, I’m just guessing, is what sets him apart from his former Weezer bandmates. I’ve seen Weezer a few times, and I’m as big a fan of the blue album and Pinkerton as the next girl, but their live show never impresses me. Bring on the onslaught of hate mail.)

The six-piece band—with Sharp and That Dog’s Rachel Haden as the only remaining members of the original line-up– included Ben Pringle, Chipman, Dan Joeright and Sara Radle. With their signature boy/girl harmonies and Moog-infused melodies, the group played their way through a set that included all the fan favorites from Return of the Rentals and Seven More Minutes, plus most of The Last Little Life EP (“It’s the first music we’ve put out in a long motherfuckin’ time!” announced Sharp). The musically inclined bunch alternated duties on back-up vocals, synthesizer and glockenspiel, while Chipman handled the viola and Pringle even busted out a trombone for one song. Each song featured layers of catchy rhythms and singsong choruses, making it obvious why these guys are such seminal figures in the neo-new wave scene.

The highlight of the evening was easily “Friends of P,” when Sharp threw on a Giants cap and marched across the stage, conducting the audience in “If you’re down with P/Well, then you’re down with me.” It may have been 12 years since I was first turned onto The Rentals, but I’m still totally down with P.

More Rentals tour dates here:

More Copeland tour dates here:

More Goldenboy tour dates here:

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