Anticipation is integral in maintaining the vivacity that comes with a live music performance – and audiences are hit with it right from the start. It is found in the little bit of magic between when the band first steps onstage and before the first note of the opener has played. After making an entrance that is met warmly with applause and cheers, the band gets set up on their instruments, takes their positions, and prepares to play. Here lies the element of anticipation; the audience waits with baited breath to see what that very first song will be – wholly ready to lose themselves in the world of the music.
When this moment occurred at the Rooney concert at Lincoln Hall, the anticipation was shattered when the signature opening keyboard riff of hit “I’m Shakin’” began to play. The opening notes of the song served as a form of auditory time travel – in that moment, it instantaneously became the year 2003. The crowd was composed of an adult majority, proving evident of the lasting relationship Rooney’s music has had with his listeners. In that moment, worries of the work week were abandoned and pre-teen years were in full revival.
In a similar vein, Rooney’s music contains an intriguing nexus of nostalgia and timelessness.
While a majority of their most popular tracks came to fruition in the 2000s, there is an element to their work that is durable and lasting. Touring nearly ten years after the band saw its peak in popularity, Rooney’s music is still a precise sonic fit within the scope of the contemporary recording industry. While several of their individual tracks vary stylistically and lyrically, their overarching body of artistic is connected by this special spark that makes their work something that has and likely will continue to withstand time. What that special spark is cannot be discerned. Itis simply that indescribable sense of love for the music; the individualized sense of love that makes people’s relationship with Rooney’s work special and unique to them.
Rooney front loaded their setlist with hits from their self-titled album that saw its release in 2003, including the sing-along inducing “That Girl Has Love” and “Blueside” – the latter of which was briefly featured in the 2001 film The Princess Diaries, which frontman Robert Schwartzman starred in opposite actress Anne Hathaway. Embedded amidst the delightfully pop-rock setlist was “Not In My House,” a track off 2010’s Eureka. The more resonant, rock – oriented track not only served as sonic variety, but showcased the musical authenticity and skill that each individual within Rooney innately possesses.
Halfway through the performance, Schwartzman took time to acknowledge his love for Chicago and its music community specifically. The city’s flourishing artistic community and its subsequent support has served as a point of pride for all who are involved in it, and the fact that a band visiting the city on tour has noticed that Chicago has “some of the best music fans in the world” is, frankly, pretty neat.
The first of Rooney’s encores was “When Did You Heart Go Missing?”, their most popular song to date. At that point, the energy in the room hit its peak. Those who had been sitting throughout the performance shot up from their chairs, and crowd members who had been socializing around the room’s perimeter beelined towards the center. The lighthearted, jaunty track was the perfect way to begin to conclude a performance by a band whose music has the ability to radiate a simultaneous sense of warmth and vibrancy. After the house lights came up, audiences left the venue with smiles and chatter of pleasantries that – if one had not known better – would suggest that they had spent time under the warm, sun streaked sky that served as the stage’s backdrop.
In reality, however, the happy faces and cheerful banter are simply side effects of having attended a thoroughly enjoyable concert.