The mid-90s were sort of a golden era of music for me. It all began with Nirvana's "Nevermind," and stretched through The Smashing Pumpkins, PJ Harvey, Beck, Garbage, Radiohead, Sleater-Kinney, and the like. Many of the bands who were so influential then have gone on to produce great albums well into the new millenium, but the work that was done in the 90s will always be nostalgic for me.
One of the more overlooked band of the mid-90s was The Rentals. Don't feel bad if you're not familiar with them. Most people aren't. However, most people have heard of Weezer, which is where our story begins. After the success of Weezer's first album, their bassist, Matt Sharp, formed a side project with a sort of rotating cast that, at any given time, has included Rachel and Petra Haden (of that dog.), Patrick Wilson, and even Maya Rudolph, of SNL fame. (It turns out she's as talented a keyboardist as she is at impersonating Donatella Versace.) They recorded their debut, the ironically titled "The Return of the Rentals." Sharp then returned to Weezer to record "Pinkerton," split from Weezer, and recorded "Seven More Minutes" back with the Rentals. Since then, he's done various solo projects and helped out with other recordings, most recently on Tegan and Sara's "So Jealous" album. Earlier this year, he announced the new lineup for the Rentals, including Rachel Haden. They're going on a short tour before going into the studio to record a new album, and I'm hella excited.
Ozma, and they were a great choice. Similar to The Rentals, but a little more punk-ish. The Rentals play the fuzzy-pre-emo-pop of Weezer with the New-Wave synth of the Cars, plus strong female harmonies, violins, and moog synthesizers. It's fun and infectious, and you can't help but enjoy it and smile.
The show itself was nothing but fun. I found it impressive that nearly all the band members switched from instrument to instrument. Guitar one minute, keyboard the next, then violin or synthesizer. They really had their stuff together.
They played for a little over an hour, and wanted to play longer, but had to quit because the venue turns into a club at 10:30. The last song they played was a wonderful cover of Lou Reed's "Walk on the Wild Side" that segued nicely into "Friends of P." After the show, I was walking outside and saw Matt Sharp next to their tour bus. I walked up, shook his hand, and told him how much I enjoyed the show. He was really cool and thanked me for coming. I wish I would have had my camera.