Concert Reviews

Over The Weekend: The Rocket Summer, Analog Rebellion at the Granada Theater

The Rocket Summer, Analog Rebellion
Granada Theater
February 26, 2010

Better than:
blowing some kickass bubblegum bubbles.

Holy crap. guys. People really love The Rocket Summer. Like really really.

It's not difficult to see why: At the Granada Theater-hosted CD release show for his new album Of Men and Angels on Friday night, Grapevine's own Bryce Avary, the man behind the moniker, put on quite the impressive display to match his new batch of arena-ready pop-rock anthems.

It was a show complete with all fixings.

Cliched--yet still fairly tasteful--rock 'n' roll poses? Check. Clap-alongs? Check. Pogo-ing? Check. Crowd-surfing? Check. Sing-alongs? And how.

Teenage girls stood with eyes closed and hands clasped before them, singing along to Avary's barely-disguised lyrics about faith, only breaking from their stances to snarl at those who dared obstruct their view of Avary on stage. Tweens gathered in groups, clad in shirts that read "The Rocket Summer Is My Drug."

Sure, the show was somewhat bubblegum-flavored. But that's Avary's audience, for better or worse. And, on this night, it was for the better: For well over an hour on this night, Avary never lost his audience's attention.

It helps that he's got experience on his side: For 10 years now, Avary's been performing as The Rocket Summer. It provides him an edge that few performers his age--just 27 years old--can boast. And, though the array of moves and showcases of skill that he offered up on this night weren't necessarily anything new to the concert-going veteran, it was all pretty impressive to this relatively young crowd of attendees. And, really, it was impressive for all: Avary might not have reinvented the wheel with his performance on this night, be he sure gave it plenty of spins.

Like when he excused his three-piece backing band from the stage so he could take over each of their instruments (as he does on his albums) and record them on loops, moving from drums to keys, to bass, and finally, to his main position at the front of the stage, behind the mic, guitar in hand before launching into "Break It Out.

Or when he walked out into the crowd to perform from a set-up mic in the middle of the room, only to end that bit by jumping into the arms of his adoring fans--although not before instructing them to pass him back to the stage so the night could go on.

The crowd was his--and for a man relatively nervous about his new release, it was surely a comforting sight.

He admitted as much at the end of the evening: "This has been one of the funnest nights of my life," he told the crowd to an eruption of cheers toward the end of the evening.

It was a similar reveal to one he offered up earlier in the evening: "I've decided that I kind of want to do this for a long time, if that's all right with you," he told the audience.

They cheered back as if his not doing so would be the end of the world. Yep, people really love The Rocket Summer.

And after this show, it was easy to see why.

Critic's Notebook
Personal Bias:
I kind of hate most everything that comes Alternative Press-approved these days--even though Avary's new disc has been something of a guilty pleasure for me in recent weeks. Still, I wasn't expecting to enjoy this show. Too many kids, too many cliches, all that. I couldn't help having a good time, though: Avary's high-energy performance was compelling and the room's adoration was infectious.

By The Way: Aledo's Daniel Hunter, who performs under the Analog Rebellion moniker and used to do so under the name of PlayRadioPlay!, fared very well in his slot right before Avary's. I'm a huge fan of his far-more-mature Analog Rebellion debut Ancient Electrons, and the few songs he performed from that disc on this night slayed. Unfortunately, Hunter explained after his set, his drummer (and only live backing player) isn't up to speed on the new material, so only so much of it could be played live. It was hardly the end of the world, though: Hunter's PlayRadioPlay material is what got the biggest reaction from this young crowd, as that's the material this crowd knew.

Random Note:
This was a really early show featuring five bands--and, unfortunately, I didn't make it to the Theater in time for any of the first three. Kinda pissed about that, too, as I didn't know that Mount Righteous was scheduled to perform as part of it. Pretty cool that Avary asked his Grapevine counterparts to play--even if the band members I ran into as the night wore on laughed that the crowd was pretty much dumbfounded by its acoustic marching band punk.

KEEP THE DALLAS OBSERVER FREE... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Pete Freedman
Contact: Pete Freedman