by David Downs
Mellow Johnny’s Bike Shop — with its ample track bikes, room for hundreds, and serene name — turned into the perfect venue Thursday for San Francisco’s famed indie rockers Rogue Wave. Warm midday light streamed down through big bay windows onto the quintet during its hour-long afternoon set playing new songs from just-released album Permalight. The album took a battering on Pitchfork.com with a 5.1 out of 10 review, and you can see where critics might be irked over smiling Zach Rogue and his soft and breathy vocal styling, which fit snugly into three- and four-part harmonies over loud, clean guitar. Whatever, the kids liked it. The start-stop structure of the songs, combined with their mournful, resigned tone even evoked Grandaddy — full of oblique references to domestic turmoil, yet radio-ready acoustic pop nonetheless. The problem is that the field is quite crowded with acts like Jason Mraz. Still, the vocal harmonies and pop structure had Rogue Wave sounding like some roughened-up Beach Boys, and they even went the anthemic route with a song that could have easily been the melody of Scorpions’ “Rock You Like A Hurricane” with just a touch of grunge and Blue Oyster Cult. The band closed its AOL Spinner “pop-up” party — announced just hours prior on twitter — with title track “Permalight” and long list of shows in front of them.