On a surprisingly warm Saturday, The Rentals took the stage at Irving Plaza September 27th. Two opening bands, Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin, an indie pop band from Springfield, Missouri, and pop duo Mates of State set the mood for for raucous pop rock. The five piece band featured an incredibly talented lead singer who hopped back and forth between guitar and drums, singing regardless of what instrument he was playing. Unfortunately it was a bit hard to see him sing when he played drums since the lights stayed on the front of the stage instead of following him back to the kit. The music was by no means diminished, however. Kori Gardner of Mates of State played bass on a MicroKorg while at the same time managing a Roland Juno and a Telefunken Dynamic keyboard with her other hand, all the while singing vocal harmonies with Jason Hammel, who was behind a fish-bowl clear Gretsch kit. The lighting for their set was particularly cool, full of lots of pinks and purples.
The setlist for The Rentals opened with Matt Sharp running on stage to slap a vibraslap center stage with such enthusiasm and style it would have made Wayne Coyne and his gong proud during “Traces of Our Tears.” “Thought of Sound” followed immediately after which Matt Sharp picked up the bass for “The Love I’m Searching For.” Here there was a slight pause so Sharp could introduce the band and the next song, “These Days.” After that came “Please Let That Be You.” Sixth up on the setlist was “Waiting” for which the crowd cheered and started pogo-stick jump-dancing as soon as the recognizable guitar riff was heard. “Barcelona” came next, during which Sharp draped himself in an FC Barcelona flag. Playing with it throughout the song, he used it as a cape, as a banner, and at one point accidentally threw it on the drummer. Next up was “The Man with Two Brains,” which featured lovely female vocals alongside Sharp’s.
To introduce “Big Daddy C.” Sharp addressed the audience for the first time during the show. “Hey!” he said. “I hope they’re ready for this. Are you ready for this, goddammit?” To which the crowd responded with an enthusiastic, “Whoooo!” Sharp laughed, saying, “You don’t even know what the f–k it is yet how can you be ready for it?! Well are you ready to leave?” A resounding “NO!” was the answer to that. “I’m so f–king happy to be in New York!” Sharp yelled. “This song amongst other things was sort of written about New York in a way. About being with a bunch of Brits doing cocaine in Soho. I wasn’t doing it. Keith was doing it,” he said, slapping the guitarist on the back. “That’s just a day in the life in the big city,” Keith said with a smarmy tone. “Are you ready to shout with me mother f–kers?” Sharp yelled. “When I say ‘Hey’ you say ‘Ho’!” Sharp shouted, nearly bouncing off the stage with energy. He dedicated the next song to his good friend Ryan Gentles, who shared the album in common with Sharp. “This is for you, you f–king stud muffin.” What ensued was “Keep Sleeping” which concluded the first half of the show.
“New York. Lordy Lordy Lordy…” Sharp said as the show segued into the second half. “Yes, we will need an orchestra and a childrens choir to do that song,” he said in response to requests for “Traces of Our Tears” again. “Well, as you may or may not know, we have a new album that just came out. It’s on a record label called Polyvinyl.” People cheered, and one audible “boo” came from the back of the audience. “I can’t believe that one person booed. That is amazing. Don’t worry, we’ll go out to dinner afterwards, one guy, and we’ll talk about it. I can turn you around I think.”
“Well, I just wanted to say a few things. This show tonight and these last couple shows we’ve done, a couple on the west coast, a couple here… Anyways, these shows are… All these amazing people up here, becoming The Rentals together, are all in amazing other bands, they do incredible other things – I am such a huge, huge fan of all of them – and when we’re up here it’s because everything, like the stars align perfectly. Like Ryen (Slegr) from Ozma and Keith (Murray) from We Are Scientists, and the most adorable man in rock ‘n’ roll Shawn (Glassford) from Star F–ker. We learned tonight that Shawn has the smallest nipples in the history of adorable… Come here,” he said pulling Shawn towards the front of the stage. “You think I’m kidding. Is that not the smallest nipple you’ve seen in your entire life?” Sharp said as Shawn lifted his shirt to display said nipple. “It’s a unknown stat that all bass players have small nipples, it’s true….” At this point someone rudely interrupted, which Sharp handled beautifully by telling the gentleman that they would get to him later, “ I don’t give a f–k, I’ll be here all night.” Sharp consistently displayed a natural ability to handle hecklers with grace, ease and a bit of a bite. “All I’m trying to tell you, yes sir, is that I feel personally, incredibly, grateful and humble to be surrounded by all of these musicians. And likewise I feel exactly the same way about each of you, taking time to be here tonight, I tell you there’s not a second of it that I take for granted, so thank you for being here. And I also would like say, it’s little Adele Terese’s birthday today. Without a doubt the coolest f–king member of this group!”
They ended the show with “a bunch of songs” from their new album, Lost in Alphaville including “Stardust,” the eerie “In the Future,” “Seven Years” “Songs of Remembering” and the first single from the new album, “1000 Seasons.” The encore demanded by the audience included “It’s Time to Come Home,” “Getting By,” and a kickass mashup of “Friends of P.” with the theme from “Ghostbusters,” the ultimate New York City theme, especially during this time of year. Sharp climbed out into the audience for this last one, and got everyone crouched down on the floor, whispering, “Ghostbusters!” They closed out the night for good with a short birthday jam for Adele. Fans and first-listeners were equally critical and stoked at the same time.
“The synthesizers were hard to differentiate because they all shared the same frequency range. All the instruments were on point. Essentially, their live sound translated exceptionally well compared to their album,” said Daniel Stewart, 26, from Boston.
“The show had great energy. Never heard of the band before but I’m sold on them. Loved the lead singer’s stage presence. Ghostbusters was the perfect way to end the show too. Sound seemed a little muddy from the side, especially the vocals. But that wasn’t the band’s fault. Powerful sound,” said Kim, 45, from Manhattan.