Live Review: Paper Rival - The Troubadour, West Hollywood
Mon, 04 Aug 2008 11:27:35
Paper Rival frontman Jake Rolleston is just so polite. Midway through the band's set at the Troubadour, the soft-spoken Tennessee native exclaimed, "As Paper Rival, we can say it's an honor to play here tonight, thank you for having us. We've never been to this place before, but I really like it!" The Troubadour is one of L.A.'s more likable venues. It's played host to countless rock n' roll legends, and it's one of the few locales that hasn't been overly gussied up with time. It looks like a rock club with its minimalist décor and old school charm. So, given their style of infectious emotional rock, it wasn't hard for Paper Rival to make the Troubadour's stage their home for 30-minutes.
The ghost of grunge loomed over the club during Paper Rival's entrancing set. The band transformed the stage into a veritable opera of idiosyncratic sounds. The classic "verse, chorus, verse" structures were there, but Paper Rival gave the formula a cosmic makeover. Each plucked guitar string echoed with clean resonances and warm electronic textures. On stage, Paper Rival's muse was something of an alien but was quite beautiful nonetheless.
"Foreign Film Collection," from their debut album, Dialog, touted a big, vulnerable chorus that gave Jake the spotlight. His voice had a welcoming warmth as he churned out equally inviting power chords on his Fender Telecaster. The first song's spaced out distortion definitely had an Indie rock sensibility, but Paper Rival showed a little more emotion than your average shoegazers. Jake's also got a quiet yet friendly stage persona that matches the band's sound. Smiling at the crowd before "A Fox In the Garden," Jake exclaimed, "This song's for you guys." Soon huge chord strums gave way to a wall of feedback that was pure Siamese Dream.
Live, Paper Rival's sound falls somewhere between Team Sleep's sonic space trek and Pearl Jam's reliable and consistent melody. "Are We Brothers?" allowed the band's rock n' roll edge to come through with dueling guitar rhythms. Before "Alabama," Jake explained, "This song's about the state of Alabama and how much it sucks." The song took on more meaning live as the band thrashed about. The big drum beats at the beginning even got the crowd of bespectacled hipsters collectively moving. As the set wrapped up, the poignant combination of "Weak Sister" and "Bluebird" served as the band's forlorn goodbye.
Paper Rival don't fit in with their indie contemporaries or modern alt rock. They hearken back to a certain understated sound from the mid-90s. In the wake of the Seattle scene's remission, some kind of post-grunge apparition paved the way for bands like Sunny Day Real Estate, Smile and Hum. It seems like Paper Rival have revived that spirit for the 21st Century and given it even more life.