All images by Susan Muller/MIMC
One of my favorite things about the return of concerts is that artists who release new music are able to celebrate it with an album release show. Too many musicians were unable to promote their new releases to a live atmosphere over the last two years due to the time stolen by COVID-19, and even now some newer bands have not even been able to play live for the first time.
To that end, I found myself at Rumba Café on Friday for the much-anticipated EP release show for Rooftops, which is the solo project of former Threat Level Midnight and current Frankie Soleil guitarist Bryan Ream. The show was sold out, which considering the likes of Still Woozy, Upsahl and Everclear were in town for separate shows, is a fantastic accomplishment.
The house was already packed at 9pm as the opening act, The Retrospect, finished their soundcheck and kicked into their set. Cincinnati’s Sleeperdaisy gave us a taste of 90’s nostalgia with New Found Glory’s attitude mixed with MxPx riffs, while Laveer played their usual upbeat ethereal set before Ream and drummer Mark Fullen took the stage. The lights dropped to darkness and the crowd around me chanted for Ream to take a bow. He looked back at Fullen grinning ear to ear and said “Mark, we did it!” before beginning to play.
The show began with I Don’t Care Tonight, which has an upbeat funky rhythm to it and is perfect as a set opener. Ream danced around the stage as he played, building up the energy of the crowd around me to a peak. I don’t think they needed him to do much, as they were still screaming and cheering throughout the song.
Up next was It’s Alright, the first song to be debuted from the new EP, titled “Happy On The Outside”. The song had a bouncy synth opening and Ream screamed “1, 2, 3, GO!” before bounding around the stage again. Fullen was laying into his kit with reckless abandon as Ream’s voice reverberated around the concert hall. After that it was Better Off Alone, which had a much punkier feel to it and featured a solid solo at the end.
Nothing Left To Say was a song that I had heard Ream play acoustically on LoCLE Grown’s Instagram Hour, and was the only song of the night that I would consider a ballad from their catalogue. It built slowly, but by the end I was wondering if Fullen was going to launch into a drum solo of his own. Ream took the time to introduce himself and his drummer before playing A Song For Mary, in which a full-on dance party started behind me.
Ream continued to spring around on stage during Falling, the first song the band had ever released back in 2020. If there was any knock on the performance from the duo, it was that they simply needed another person on stage to complement Ream’s energy. He tried to coax the crowd into a frenzy on Pressure, with its bass-heavy intro and thundering guitar-frantic second half, but other than some dancing I don’t think the response was what he was looking for.
Now I Know was the first single off of the new EP, with a hardcore feel quite different from the previous two. At some point an entire pack of mini beach balls were thrown out to the crowd, and suddenly they were bouncing all over the stage and among the pit. It was definitely a sight to see – one of those “you had to be there” moments where everyone was simultaneously rocking out and throwing the balls around.
Ream announced that Queen City was a true story, and even after playing 8 songs still had enough energy to jump around as he played the group’s most recognizable song. The final song for the night was the opening song from the EP, titled TBH (See You Next Summer). Ream absolutely saved the best for last on this one, with a big bouncy chorus and a snappy snare from Fullen, who was again acting like his kit had insulted him somewhere along the line. Everyone around me was dancing again, and as the duo finished, the crowd was coaxing them on to play an encore.
However, Ream gave them an honest answer to their predicament – that they didn’t actually have any other songs to play. Even as the clock had recently struck midnight, the patrons at Rumba continued to chant and insist upon more music, and so Ream told them that all they could do was play a song they had already played again.
All around me voices shouted suggestions (including the always popular “Free Bird” and “Everlong”), but several people wanted them to play Pressure again. Ream agreed, but only if the crowd would start an actual moshpit this time. Surely enough, the crowd acquiesced and a circle pit formed behind me, with no less than a dozen people participating. It seemed as though the temperature had rise several degrees by the time Ream strummed out the final solo at the end of the song.
There was a room full of fans that wanted to congratulate the front-man once the set ended, and Ream expressed his excitement to me about playing their first sold out show as well as his anticipation for their upcoming tour, which would take them to Michigan, Illinois and Tennessee as well as the three major C’s in Ohio. If he and Fullen give that much energy on each stop, I think they’ll have a host of new fans by March.
- I Don’t Care Tonight
- It’s Alright*
- Better Off Alone
- Nothing Left To Say*
- A Song For Mary
- Now I Know*
- Queen City
- TBH (See You Next Summer)*
- Pressure (redux)
*denotes song off of new EP Happy On The Outside