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“The future isn’t what it used to be,” sings Zach Rogue in “Good Morning (The Future)” from Rogue Wave’s new album, Permalight. His voice sounds high and sweet and so much like Ben Gibbard’s that every time I hear it I think I’m hearing Death Cab for Cutie. And then I think, What is Gibbard doing singing a Yogi Berra line like that? But by the time my brain gets to that point, “Good Morning” has shifted into a chorus that sounds like the Shins doing a Kraftwerk impersonation.

Don’t get me wrong: I don’t mean to imply that Rogue Wave mimics other bands. On the contrary, Rogue Wave was one of the leading bands in the past decade’s transformation of indie rock into something quieter, geekier, more melodic, and much more popular. The Oakland band got a spot on the right tours (opening for, among others, the Shins and Death Cab), played the right festivals, and got their songs on the right TV shows and movies.

But as the Shins and Death Cab grew into household names, Rogue Wave had serious setbacks. Most serious of all was the death of the band’s friend and former bass player Evan Farrell in a 2007 house fire. In addition, Rogue Wave’s drummer, Pat Spurgeon, had kidney trouble, requiring daily dialysis. A year and a half ago, Zach Rogue suffered two slipped discs in his neck, causing the band to cancel months’ worth of shows. Any one of these things could have wiped out a lesser band, but Rogue Wave is still going. The band’s future may not be what it used to be, but the music is still good.

Past Event

Rogue Wave

  • Tuesday, April 27, 2010, 9 p.m.
  • Belly Up, 143 South Cedros Avenue, Solana Beach
  • $13 - $15
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