The Rentals returned in August with “Lost in Alphaville,” their first album in 15 years. Despite the time away, The Fonda Theatre in Hollywood was surprisingly undersold for a homecoming gig on Friday, September 5th. Although the balcony remained closed, the attendees were open with their enthusiasm.
In response, frontman and only constant band member Matt Sharp (former Weezer bassist) channeled his inner, arms-stretched messiah and basked in the fandom (pictured below).
Supporting The Rentals was opening Pasadena quintet Ozma, who kept the spirit of pre-self-parody Weezer alive with a lively set of nerd rock highlighted by their cover of “Tetris” theme song “Korobeiniki.” The exhilarating spirit of We Are Scientists followed. The New York indie rock trio stormed through an 11 song set of old favorites like “After Hours” and “The Great Escape” mixed with cuts from their latest album “TV en Français.” Throughout their 40 minute set, guitarist Keith Murray and bassist Chris Cain rocked, making it clear they were genuinely psyched to be there and joked in between songs. In addition to their own blistering set, Murray also later played with The Rentals (collaboration pictured above) throughout their headlining set.
At midnight, Sharp went into an extended speech about his music listening history and how the likes of The Cure and Ray Davies are all that matter in the world. The point of Sharp’s speech was that Brooklyn indie pop band Lucius had the same significance to him, and here vocalists Holly Laessig and Jess Wolfe were onstage that night as part of The Rentals. In response, hardcore fans latched onto every word, while casuals rushed to the exit. As overlong and momentum killing as the speech was, I can relate to this often alienating brand of music love. Much to the chagrin of my Facebook friends, when I’m absorbed by a band, everyone knows it.
Much later, The Rentals’ marathon set came to a close with an extra special rendition of 1995 hit and debut single “Friends of P” that switched to a cover of Ray Parker Jr.’s “Ghostbusters.” Meanwhile, Sharp, Laessig and Wolfe ventured into the crowd, commanding fans to crouch and whisper along to the chorus. At the end of the night, The Rentals still felt like a novelty and sporadic side project, but the ride was nevertheless an often enjoyable one.
Check out more photos from the event below.
We Are Scientists
Photos by Frank Mojica