Magic Stick, Detroit, MI 12-09-09

When Liz and I heard that Tally Hall was opening for Rooney on a short winter tour, we hoped and prayed that they would come back to Michigan. Initially we were disappointed, but eventually we found out that they would be playing at the Majestic Theater in Detroit on December 9th. Miraculously, that ended up being the last day we had finals at CMU, so Liz and I trekked downstate on Wednesday immediately after our last finals got out. Considering there were about 6 inches of snow on the ground in Mt Pleasant, we were concerned about road conditions and left around 2:30. We made it back to Livonia in about 2 hours, and after getting dinner we picked up Kat and Mel and headed to Detroit! After about half an hour of driving and finally finding the Magic Stick (where it had been moved to), I moseyed around the building trying to find will call. I was informed that the doors wouldn’t be opening until 8 and since it was just after 6, the four of us decided to go bowling downstairs from the venue! None of us are terribly great at bowling, but it was better than sitting in my van for 2 hours.

Our friend Steph and her mom joined us as we bowled, and after 1.5 games (which we played like true champs) and saying hey to Joe as he passed by us and commented on our ties, we found out that the doors in fact opened at 7 and there was a long line going. We got upstairs into the Magic Stick, wandered over to Tally Hall’s merch table, and proceeded to sign the guest book for the fourth time this year. Liz and I decided to buy Rooney’s second album and EP (since I already had their first album) and, which meant I got a free t-shirt and we got stamps to go to a meet-and-greet with Rooney after the show! We were also informed that Tally Hall would be around during Rooney’s set, but would probably head out pretty early so they could spend time with their family and friends, which was completely understandable.

Crash Kings started around 8, and while they were a bit loud (read: nearly deafening) they had a solid high-energy sound that seemed to fit well with both Tally Hall and Rooney. Liz and I split the cost of their cd, knowing it would be great driving music for the ride back to Mt Pleasant on Thursday. We were also stoked that they were playing because their music was featured in Zombieland, one of our favorite new movies! Liz found them during Rooney’s set and talked to them, getting their signatures on the album cover.

After the Crash Kings struck their set, the throng of Tally Hall fans near the stage grew thicker and thicker, but we somehow still managed to get spots right near the front. Something funny happened during set-up, though: the roadies who came out looked suspiciously like the band members, but they didn’t have ties and they sported conspicuous moustaches! “Clearly this is not the band,” said Liz and I, “Clearly they use lookalike roadies to throw off their fans.” After an amusing sound check that included licks from what sounded like “Tequila” and the opening line of “Part of Your World” sung by Rob[‘s doppelganger], the *cough* roadies *cough* went off and Tally Hall took the stage!

Considering the amount of time they had, the guys managed to fit in a good mix of old favorites (“Good Day,” “Spring and a Storm,” “Welcome to Tally Hall,” “Turn the Lights Off,” and “The Whole World and You”) and new classics such as their opener “Never Meant to Know,” “A Lady/Sacred Beast,” “You & Me,” “&,” and a brand spankin’ new song called “Cannibal” (though there were a few disappointed fans who’d called out for “Greener” after nearly every song). It was really interesting to hear changes and tightened-up aspects of some of the new songs that we’d heard back in May. “You & Me” seemed to have the most noticeable changes, but that could just be because it’s a personal favorite of mine.

After Tally Hall’s rousing finish with “The Whole World and You,” there were several calls for an encore that were hushed by the return of background music over the speakers. After chatting it up with another fan, we found out from Ross that the guys would probably be downstairs during Rooney’s set after packing up the van, but might be leaving soon. We found out from the bouncer that there was no re-admittance to the Magic Stick under 21—which was particularly aggravating for Liz and I, being 20—but after some deep pondering we decided that it wouldn’t break our hearts not to meet Rooney, that we would hear them from downstairs anyway, and that we really wanted to see the Tally Hall guys. With that, Liz, Kat, Mel and I headed downstairs, presumably for the evening.

Steph and her mom were sitting at a table already with two other young ladies, waiting to see if they could spot the guys. Liz and I decided to head out to my van to drop off our Rooney merch, since we clearly wouldn’t be needing it anymore. As we were walking back in from my van, we ran into the guys, who had just finished packing up. I must have looked frazzled about missing Rooney, because Joe and Rob said, “You look tired! Why do you look tired? What’s wrong?” And I explained to them the situation about not being able to re-enter the Magic Stick because we wanted to come down and see them.

“Oh,” they said, “Well, we can just try and sneak you in the back entrance where we go in! Follow us!”

We thanked them profusely, and proceeded to tell Joe, Rob, and Andrew how much we enjoyed the show, and how we loved hearing the changes in the songs between the May/June and December shows we’d seen. They thanked us and seemed both surprised and appreciative that someone noticed the differences. As Joe and Rob led us up the back stairs, Kat and Mel walked outside to try and find us, just catching Liz as she headed into the stairwell. She beckoned for them to follow us, and we all just waltzed into the back entrance of the Magic Stick as Rooney started their set.

As we lingered in the “backstage” area near the pool tables, Joe was about to sign mine and Liz’s ties, but then got distracted and suddenly ran off. Rob stuck around and signed some things for other people and talked to some friends. After a few minutes of waiting for him to finish, we saw Zubin come up through the back entrance!  We said hey and hugged, and after exchanging the usual pleasantries, he signed mine and Liz’s ties and took pictures with us. He said the guys would probably end up downstairs because they shouldn’t draw attention away from Rooney, which was understandable. Rob said he wanted to talk to us, but that we should follow him downstairs. On the way, he ran into some friends and we ran into Ross on the stairs. We stood on the stairs for several minutes and chatted about the show, how the tour’s treating them, and then he and Liz had a percussion moment when he told her how the drums sound “really cool on the new album, we’re working with some mic techniques that were new for us, old hat for our producer. But it’s a different sound and it’s really cool.” Then he graciously signed our ties and took pictures with us on the stairs. Later Liz found a random broken drum head lying around and asked him to sign it since they’re both percussionists, and he answered some of her questions about his equipment. Ross also told us that they should be touring again in the spring, hopefully playing at the Blind Pig sometime in March to accompany the spring release of the new album!

We went downstairs for the second time, and as soon as Andrew saw us he asked, “Wait, didn’t we just sneak you guys upstairs? And now you’re back down again?”

“Errr,” I responded, “Yeeeees. . . we. . . Rob is very persuasive.” We laughed, and again talked about some of the differences between this show and the ones we’d seen earlier this year, how the tour was going, etc. He signed our ties, took pictures, and told us he’d let us know if he saw Joe anywhere, since he’d run off.

By this point Rob had come downstairs, and we meandered over to him. After a brief chat, we got pictures and signatures, and Kat got a hug (she made and reached her goal of getting hugs from all the guys, and even got hugs from four of the five Rooney members)! He told me to say hey to my dad, who knew Rob and Zubin in high school and has gotten to see them live twice now.

At this point we were only waiting for Joe, who was nowhere to be found. We asked around and they said he was probably still upstairs, but would be down soon. Liz got our Crash Kings cd signed, and grabbed our Rooney merch from my van while we waited. I saw Zubin again, and got another picture with him, after which we discussed those new cameras that have the viewscreen on the front of the camera so you can see yourself when taking self-portraits. He sent his regards to my dad, and then we said farewell as I wandered back over to wait to talk to Rob, who was busy being accosted by two drunk girls. It was incredibly entertaining both to watch them throw themselves at him, and to see how he pleasantly and courteously handled it before finally returning to his friends and saying something to the effect of “Well that was an fun situation!”

A few minutes later I approached Rob to see if he knew where Joe was. He said that he could text Joe if he wasn’t downstairs yet, but I said we could try sneaking in the back way again. “Sounds good,” he agreed, “But if that doesn’t work then come find me and I’ll figure something out.”

It was at that moment that I turned around and Liz pointed out Joe coming down the stairs! He apologized for running out on us earlier, and gladly signed our ties and took pictures. When Liz half-jokingly requested that they perform some Happy Monster Band, Joe mimed making a note of that request and sticking it in his breast pocket before shaking his head very seriously. After we finished our conversation about the tour and the show, he thanked us profusely for coming and we decided to sneak back upstairs. We passed by Rob and when he asked, “Are you guys heading out?” I replied with “No, we’re going to try to sneak back in the back way again.” “Good luck! Let me know if you can’t get in!” We waved at each other and our group headed out through the bowling alley. We successfully snuck in the same way we’d done before, and high-fived upon entry. We really appreciated the bouncer not kicking us out even though he’d seen us leave twice already.

We made it for the last three songs and 2 encores of Rooney’s set, and it was with great glee that Liz and I got our merchandise signed. The band members asked about our ties, so we told them we get them signed at performances and each only have one left before we can dress like normal people again. Rob Schwartzman, the lead singer, was an absolute sweetheart, introducing himself to everyone in the line and thanking everyone for coming. He told us to wait around until the line was over so we could get pictures with them. We waited, and managed to get pictures with all but one of the band members. It was thrilling to see how approachable and caring they were about their fans, how genuinely appreciative they were.

As we walked out the back exit (hey, it was closest to my van), Liz, Kat, Mel, and I decided that it was an incredible evening in every way. It made me happy I’m a Rooney fan, but it made me downright proud to be a fan of Tally Hall.

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