Rogue Wave celebrate their magnum opus with simple sincerity


Featured Rogue Wave photo by Rebecca Bakken.

The enthralling nature of Rogue Wave’s breakout record, 2007’s Asleep At Heaven’s Gate, is as sweet and savory now as it was a decade ago. From beginning to end, the record manages to paint an elaborate picture of slight dystopia with idyllic soundscapes; frontman Zach Rogue palpably yearns for deeper levels of peace while wistfully reciting songs that spell out loneliness.

His approach is both visceral and refreshing; Rogue’s lyricism reveals his vulnerability as well as his aptitude for songwriting. “Lake Michigan, the band’s most lauded track, contains pulsating rhythms and borderline medicinal melodies while advocating for environmentalism; the memories sprinkled throughout “Harmonium” are haunting due to their fierce and piercing acuteness. Rogue also produced the album alongside Roger Moutenot (Yo La Tengo, Sleater Kinner, Elvis Costello).


It seemed fitting that for Rogue Wave’s latest tour that the Oakland band would perform Asleep At Heaven’s Gate in its entirety, and the swing made a stop at The Sinclair in Cambridge this past Tuesday (March 27). It wasn’t just another commemorative concert, although the band did release a 10th anniversary reissue of the album earlier this month. It was a celebration of Rogue Wave’s magnum opus in the most simplest and sincerest of ways.

Amidst rays of blue and red light, the band approached the stage extremely humble and grateful to be there. There wasn’t much introduction needed for a record that is so seamless in its fluidity. From the aforementioned opening track “Harmonium” to “Like I Needed” and “Chicago x 12,” Rogue Wave showed early on that they would make the tracks on Asleep At Heaven’s Gate fly by in a flash.

Rogue teased “I reckon you know what time it is” as the drums rumbled during the beginning of “Lake Michigan” and the crowd let out chants of excitement. They rounded out the record (“Own Your Own Home” felt slightly subdued, “Phonytown” packed more bite than anticipated) before delivering an encore of other songs from their catalogue such as “Bird on a Wire,” “Nourishment Nation,” and “Eyes.” An evening saturated with a heartfelt discography was something everyone in attendance expected — what we received was something deeper, richer and truly timeless.


Follow Candace McDuffie on Instagram @cmcduffie1.