Live Recap: Rookie at Tonic Room 11.21.18
Walking into the Tonic Room on Wednesday night, I was greeted by a man in a fringe vest as ABBA played overhead; an ideal entrance to see some tunes. I had been fortunate enough to see ROOKIE perform recently at the Empty Bottle where their booming sound, undeniable musicianship skills, and matching jumpsuits made it nearly impossible to stand still while they played. If you go to see ROOKIE, you are going to be dancing, so dress accordingly. With the Tonic Room being much more of an intimate space I was curious to see how their sound and performance would differ from the first time I saw them. When they stepped onstage I almost didn’t recognize the band without their matching outfits but the Superman shirt to Sox baseball cap automatically created a sense of community between artist and audience before the music even began. They set down their PBRs and Highlifes, picked up their instruments and with a “Hey how is everyone doing tonight? We’re ROOKIE,” the music began.
ROOKIE kept the sense of community going during their set by breaking the fourth wall between performer and viewer and getting close with the small yet bustling crowd of the Tonic Room. While singing along to “One Way Ticket” I noticed that I was a part of the most impressive karaoke session and that the audience was not shy about how often this song is replayed by each of us on Spotify. The band welcomed this singalong from the stage with fist bumps and loving head nods. These gestures were just part of the effort made from each band member to welcome the audience, creating a really unique and individual experience for each listener.
ROOKIE’s flow from beginning to end of show was high energy and fully committed to creating an alive and kicking set despite the small space. It felt like they were playing Aragon Ballroom and not the Tonic Room based on the energy they put forward, and they kept moving forward instead of allowing themselves to fall back into the comfortability of a smaller crowd. Their sound reverberated off all four walls of the space, even when I walked to the back of the bar to snag another beer, the music still clung to me.
The strong sense of community didn’t just exist between band and audience, but watching ROOKIE interact with one another onstage made clear why they have such an impeccable sound and loyal following. From smiles to nods to inside jokes onstage they were having fun with each other. When seeing bands perform there is sometimes the unfortunate “me, my instrument, and some other random people around me” energy. This did not ring true for ROOKIE; the band works as a cohesive entity—not just as strangers playing alongside each other. When band member, Dimitri Panoutsos, encountered a broken string mid set, the other members were quick to swoop in and help their fellow musician out before his next solo. This clear web of support among the boys of ROOKIE makes you fall in love with them a little more than you already have.
By the time Uncle Sexy stepped onstage, the Tonic Room was a choir of laughter, dancing feet, and empty beer cans. Cover song after cover song the energy of the room never faltered and the show remained at full throttle thanks to ROOKIE and Uncle Sexy’s infectious stage presence and evident talent. Not only do I plan on making my way back to the Tonic room but I will be sticking with ROOKIE in the same way my boots stuck to that wood floor covered in PBR.