It's a common conundrum: A new album is recorded, mixed and ready to go, but it's not due to be released for a month. The band has live shows to play. So what makes up the set list? New songs that interest the band but might baffle the crowd? Older songs the fans want to hear but the group is growing weary of? Eagles covers?
Rogue Wave -- whose new "Descended Like Vultures" doesn't hit stores until late October -- took a prudent approach at the Black Cat Monday night, mixing a few new songs with established favorites. And though its chiming indie pop songs bear strong resemblance to those of labelmates the Shins, the hour-long set was not sunk by the similarity, supported as it was by dynamic instrumental drive and Zach Rogue's brooding vocal arrangements.
"Every Moment," featured in "Napoleon Dynamite," is probably Rogue Wave's best-known song, and it was a highlight, but others cut from similar cloth ("Falcon Settles Me," "Sewn Up," "Seasick on Land" and the new "Catform") were equally strong -- chirpy melodies with doleful edges rubbed just right with ringing guitars. Better still was "Endgame," which ached like something Leo Sayer could've made into a massive '70s smash, and a stellar take on Buddy Holly's "Everyday."
The openers, Fruit Bats, chewed on indie pop too, but leader Eric Johnson prefers a more organic sound, making performances of songs such as "The Wind That Blew My Heart Away" both charming and unpretentious.
-- Patrick Foster