Wednesday, February 27
The Sprint Center
By CRYSTAL K. WIEBE
I’m going to be deaf one day and rock and roll will be to blame. But whatever damage I did to my ears last night at the Sprint Center was in no way the fault of any musician. I barely wore my bright orange earplugs while Rooney performed. Even on the floor of the Sprint Center, the sweet pop rock didn’t seem too oppressive. But when the music stopped and thousands of ‘tween girls started shrieking – that’s when I started to really fear for my ear drums.
Back in the day I screamed like that, too – at Boyz II Men, All 4 One and Kris Kross. Hell, if I found myself in the middle of a Justin Timberlake concert, I would totally squeal in a frequency that only a dog could hear. And I would do the same if Elliott Smith rose from the dead or the Faint gave me a shout-out from stage. But I wouldn’t make a poster or in neon puff paint write on my shirt “Will You Merry Me?” (sic) like one girl did – especially not for last night’s headliner, the Jonas Brothers. But I don’t hold those little girls’ enthusiasm against them. Everyone has to start rocking out somewhere. And we can’t all be as lucky as my plus one for the night, Miss Mandy Mustacha, whose first rock show was Joy Division – when she was 6.
The Jonas Brothers: WAAAAAAAAAAH!!!!.
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Cool as that makes her, Mandy consented to hang with me last night because we’re both intrigued by the Jonas Brothers’ opening act – L.A. band Rooney, whose frontman Robert Schwartzman is brother to Hollywood it-boy Jason Schwartzman. Rooney, I’ve decided, is a like a really cheap, mass-produced bastard child of the British Invasion and the Ramones. If the Ramones ever demanded a paternity suit, though, Rooney’s biological father would probably turn out to be someone like Lou Pearlman.
With its cutesy, long-haired boy members and catchy pop songs, Rooney is about as slick as it gets. But there’s a touch of subversiveness in there. The band opened its paltry 25-minute set for the kiddies with “I'm Shakin',” a song I’ve always believed was inspired by some kind of substance withdrawal. From there, pretty boy Schwartzmann proceeded to sing a bunch of love songs like “Are You Afraid?” in which he poses as a jilted lover but really comes off like a stalker: I leave a message every night but you don't call me/
The only times we ever talk you're in a hurry/I know my reputation doesn't help you sleep at night/But lately baby I feel I don't know you. It’s not exactly the Police, I know. But I hope a few of the more precocious girlies in the crowd picked up on Rooney’s subversive undertones and seek out more rebellious sounds.
Mandy and I split before the Jonas Brothers set foot on the stage – but not before donating our Rooney meet-and-greet passes to a pair of teenagers in Rooney T-shirts. I’ve heard that petite Schwartazman is quite the ladies man, but Mandy and I had a date with the Record Bar and Ha Ha Tonka.