Rooney Brings Their Chill, SoCal Vibes To A Bustling Minneapolis


To say that there is a lot going on in the Twin Cities this weekend would be an understatement. You have the Twin Cities Jazz Festival going on in Saint Paul and then Pride going on throughout Minneapolis. With multiple things going on for each event, deciding what to do was going to be a task for me. I wanted to see it all, be a part of everything and then Rooney announced they would be playing show. All of a sudden the jazz festival and Pride weren’t even a thought in my mind. I knew where I was going to be.

Twinsmith from Omaha, NE started off the show with their clean sounding indie-pop music. Everything about this band screamed DIY and humble. They didn’t really say much to the nearly sold out crowd (other than some sportsball stuff that was way over my head about some player that we stole from Chicago) but they didn’t have to. They definitely let the music speak for them and that seemed to be more than enough. The atmosphere during their set was super chill and relaxed. With the chaos of a bustling city just outside of the entrance, it was nice to have such a laid back show. Their set felt far too short and as soon as I was finally picking up on some small nuances of the band, they were packing up and the stage was getting flipped over for the next act. With a new album due out next month, I’m hoping I get another chance to catch these guys.

Up next was Run River North, an all Asian-American band from California. Within the first song, I was in love. These guys had a genuine sense of energy and passion that was contagious. I always joke that you can judge how much fun a band is having on stage by how much the drummer smiles throughout their set. Well, I don’t think there was a single moment during their set where the drummer wasn’t smiling. Their music leaned more to the side of indie but don’t let that fool you into thinking this is just another indie band. Not only did the energy coming off the stage set them apart from other bands I’ve seen, so did the talent. Check out our interview with singer Alex Hwang

One of the many things that struck me about these guys was their use of the violin. It gave the music a little bit of a bluegrass feel but didn’t distract you from the other, more standard, instruments. The band wasn’t afraid to use dynamics. It didn’t matter that the venue was packed full of people, RRN played their music with emotion and if a part in a song was supposed to be awkwardly quiet, they let it be that way. They were not trying to be anything other than what they were and I truly appreciated that. There were parts in their set where I wanted to dance and jump up and down but there were other parts where just sitting in back and sipping on my drink seemed like a pretty good idea too. I love when a single band can make you feel so many different things in such a short period of time.

I was shocked when RRN left the stage and the crowd was left chanting “One more song!”. Sure, pleading for an encore is nothing new but it usually only happens with the headliners. Here RRN was, an opening band, having the crowd literally beg for one more song from them. Unfortunately, time was not going to allow that extra song but singer Alex Hwang promised an acoustic song outside on the sidewalk after the show. Everything about that moment felt genuine. The crowd truly wanted another song and Alex and honestly going to give them that. That really says everything you need to know about this band. To say they are humble would be an understatement and, if the music was enough to make you fall in love with these guys, their attitude was.

Rounding out the night was Rooney. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t shocked when they announced a show. I think the last time I even thought about this band was back in the early 2000’s when I was still in high school. Regardless, as soon as the show was announced I just knew that I had to see what these guys had been up to and was instantly excited for a night of nostalgia.

Rooney opened up the set with their 2003 hit “Blueside”. I was honestly quite shocked when they opened up with this one since, in my mind, this was their biggest hit, but no complaints here. I was instantly taken back to my high school years with ease. With their So Cal sounds mixed with a sense of the “British Invasion” scene, these guys powered through their set while the crowd sang along. The crowd was eating up every single word that singer Robert Schwartzman sang. The band seemed truly humbled by the fact that, even with so much going on in the Twin Cities, they had a nearly sold out crowd come out to support them.

Having released three albums since that fateful 2003 self-titled album that I obsessed over for years I was shocked to see just how relevant these guys have stayed throughout the years and how much they have stuck to their unique sound. I may not have known the words to any of the songs they performed that came out after 2003, but I still felt like I knew the band. After hearing some of their newer songs last night, I can’t help but feel bad for not keeping up with these guys. While I was busy getting lost in a world of metal music and moving away from my pop-punk bands, these guys were over there staying true to their roots and doing what they do best. Being able to see that in person was not only refreshing, it was perfect.

Whether you went to see Rooney last night because of the nostalgia factor or because you’ve been keeping up with them and they are one of your favorites, you left the show last night happy. The band did a great job of not excluding anyone from the show last night. They played their new and old songs with the same amount of passion. No song last night was a “write-off” song where it was clear the band felt obligated to play it but, deep down, didn’t want to play it.

There were a million things going on last night but there was no question about where I was supposed to be. Thank you Rooney, Run River North, and Twinsmith for assuring me that I made the right decision.