Title: The Rentals
Place: The Trocadero, Philadelphia
Date: December 8, 1995
The Rentals are more human than Numan--Gary, that is. Matt Sharp (gangly bassist from Weezer) doesn't even sing his deadpan staccato words like a robot. "Friends of P." (stands for "private parts," I think, kinda like "Other People's Privates" by Naughty by Nature) is more "Video Killed the Radio Star" than "Cars" anyhow; live, the Rentals started out a cappella, with lots of hand-clapping. As for the Cars, only the Rentals' warmest song, "Waiting" (about how hard it is to write warm songs!), sounds enough like them on record. But their show was faster, jumpier, funnier, and more all-"TVC15"-systems-go than their overballadful CD. Hence, more new wave.
Thier three part mutli-patch-corded old Moogs kept swirling in a few dinky ELOrchestrated notes at a time so as to jerk the up-and-down rythm around, and Sharp kept banging a big drumstick hard on a metal pole for extra clickety-clack, bubblegum-Einstuzende Neubauten percussion. "That's about as slow as we get," Sharp warned after one midtempo song, a brave statement in this dire age of tortoishead trip-hop torpor. "Yesterday we played in front of all these drunk people, and it sucked."
"Here in the bars / I feel safest of all / I get drunk as a skunk / And throw up on the walls," a 1980 AOR Gary Numan parody went. I like the Trocadero because now that they serve alcohol again, if you're 21 you can go to the upper floor and actually lie down watching bands, almost as if they were on MTV. Last time I came, Better Than Ezra sang "You Oughta Know," and this time Sharp sang "Waterfalls"! He also wore a yellow jacket and removed it for his big number, exactly like Tracy Bonham in her opening set. And he videotaped the audience doing the (old) wave once.
The Rentals seemed Weezer-preppy, not the nerds of their Buzz Bin video--only the singer had glasses on and I wore the only skinny tie in the house. The two keyboard gals bookending the stage with barenaked belly buttons jogged in place and did aerobics. One looked like Neneh Cherry, the other looked like Juliana Hatfield and had an etherally quasi-naive, post-R.E.M.-college-radio preciousness to her harmonizing that true 1980 new wavers never would have stood for. Her pogoing wasn't much in step with the beat either, but hey, I was happy just to see people pogoing at all. It beats stage diving anyday.
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