Sound Won’t Hurt on Its On: The Rosebuds Keep Making Out
By Kim Ware; photos by Hillery Terenzi
- I once took a personality test that said I was “drawn to sad things.”
- The Rosebuds make me sad. Anyone who has followed them has probably heard that the marriage between band members Kelly and Ivan has ended. But somehow, they’ve kept the band going, which is a real testament to their strength as people and their love for what they do.
- I actually had the pleasure of attending the very first Rosebuds show. They were a last minute substitution for another band, opening for my old band in Wilmington, N.C. I’ve followed their career closely since that first show, to their 2003 debut for Merge Records, Make Out, to the present. And while each record was slightly better than the previous, their newest release, Loud Planes Fly Low, really takes the band to another level. It’s hands down their best work and will no doubt end up on many “Best Of” lists for 2011.
Now, I realize, and my husband keeps reminding me, that this show was not about me. This review is not about me either. But let’s be honest; whether it’s music, film, a painting, whatever, the way it affects you depends largely on your own experience. It’s really hard to separate the two. So when I listen to The Rosebuds’s new record, filled with stories about the dissolution of their relationship, I can’t help but feel sad (I don’t think a record has affected me so much since Beck’s Sea Change). With that in mind, I was both excited and a little bit apprehensive about attending The Rosebuds’s recent show at the EARL. Excited because as sad as their new songs are, they are also brilliant. But apprehensive because I really didn’t know if I’d be able to hold it together while hearing them live.
Alcohol helped. As did the fact that I was celebrating my birthday (which happens to be the same day as Kelly Rosebud’s) with a group of great friends. I couldn’t have asked for a better soundtrack. From the moment The Rosebuds hit the stage and launched into “Go Ahead,” the lead-off track from Loud Planes…, the night was filled with lovely harmonies, set to songs about finding love, losing it, but somehow coming out on the other side of it stronger (and maybe, in a weird way, even closer).
The band played the new album in order and almost in its entirety — with the exception of “A Story” and “Worthwhile” (and I for one am glad they chose to leave out the latter, as it would have surely sent me straight to the fetal position, crying like a damned idiot) — throwing in some old favorites like “Boxcar” and “Leaves Do Fall” in between. The standouts to me were the intensity of “Woods” and the very touching “Without a Focus,” but there was no filler to this show. Every song had the crowd dancing and singing along. And yes, it was sad. But there was a bit more of an edge to the songs live as compared to the record, which I think made them a little easier to digest. As the show went on, Kelly and Ivan became more and more engaged with the crowd, leading them to sing along with “Nice Fox,” telling funny stories, and even singing me Happy Birthday.
If you’ve ever understood what it’s like to tell someone, “I love you, but I’m not in love with you,” then you would have appreciated this show. On stage, the band exuded the same sincerity as on record, and listening to Ivan sing lyrics like “a thing of beauty, it just went away” while Kelly stood beside him was particularly hard to take. But there’s also always been a sense of lightheartedness to The Rosebuds’s songs as well as their live shows. Fortunately, this hasn’t been lost, and it was refreshing to watch two people that seem to be doing what they were meant to do, regardless of the circumstances that surround their relationship.
I’m so proud of our Rosebuds. And I hope they continue to “hold hands and fight,” as the result is something truly beautiful.