Published Nov 24, 2011Shortly before Hey Rosetta! took the stage for the first of two nights at the Phoenix, the street outside was a ghost town. Usually that doesn't bode well for what awaits past the bouncers. Nevertheless, the venue was rammed, heavily mustachioed and already a bit drunk. Evidently, the people that like the Newfoundland six-piece like them a lot (i.e., too much to smoke).
Like the Frames or, to a lesser extent, Powderfinger, Hey Rosetta! blends familiar rock tropes -- don't be fooled by the two-piece string section -- and expanding arrangements with general affability and plenty of earnestness. It's a simple setup that, when done well, spurs audience adulation, extra-regional love and fervent loyalty.
Structurally, Hey Rosetta! songs cover pretty similar ground. Opener "Parson Brown (Upirngaangutuq Iqalunni)" began as a spot-lit acoustic number, à la Great Lake Swimmers, with the rest of the players arriving to add weight and a Blue Öyster Cult guitar moment. String-driven rocker "Young Glass" and kick-drum effort, "New Sum (Nous Sommes)," followed the same start-small, end-big template.
All of that interval training could get exhausting, especially on the overwrought "There's an Arc." Still, it produced a few genuinely exhilarating moments. For "Seventeen," singer Tim Baker channelled Travis's Fran Healy, adding much-needed levity to a could-be austere cut. "Yer Spring" fused Mumford and Sons and Graceland-era Paul Simon, which might have created a radio-rock throwaway if it weren't for drummer Phil Maloney's stopwatch-perfect time keeping.
Shooting for the ceiling over and over, the outfit alway had a clap-/sing-along in their pocket. Centerpiece "Yer Fall" epitomized the M.O., starting with a pretty quiet moment before inevitably going grand. Essentially, it was a Coldplay cut.
The show climaxed with confetti cannons on "Seeds," which seemed a natural -- albeit cringe-worthy -- progression. In case you didn't notice the exclamation mark -- or the crescendos or the confetti -- Hey Rosetta! are built for big spaces and they'll likely get there.