Rooftops, And And And, NavigatorCommunicator: May 19 at The Shakedown

At this point, Rooftops have played more “last shows ever” than some bands have played shows total, and they wisely choose not to bill this show as such, instead letting the solid lineup of artists speak for itself. Performing to a modestly sized Sunday night Shakedown crowd, the band effortlessly shook all the seemingly unavoidable pitfalls that a group who performs once a year should encounter, and delivered not only a strong set, but also one of the best sets that I’ve seen from the band in four years.

Navigator/Communicator kicked off the night with their take drum, bass, and synth driven post-rock. While they are both undeniably incredible musicians, the music precariously straddled the line between bedroom noodling and live-show worthy material. Both members did an incredible job of maintaining musical coherency around the loops that they record on the fly as the foundation of each song, and while I found myself consistently impressed with part after part of each song, it was hard to find bits to latch on to, and as a result I found myself unable to recall many specifics from the set once the dust settled.

Portland’s And And And were next to take the Shakedown’s stage, and they provided a complete about-face from Nav/Com’s instrumental barrage. Providing a condensed snapshot of riffy, 90’s alt-rock with a unique multi-instrumental touch (thanks to a member who rotated between clarinet, cello, and guitar), And And And’s set was a healthy length, and their set flowed exceptionally well—they were the only group of the night to really change up the tempos of their songs.
By the time Rooftops took the stage, a healthy number of people had shown up. The room wasn’t uncomfortably crowded, but the floor certainly didn’t feel empty.

Opening with an unreleased but oft-performed song that they called “Samba,” Rooftops performed like they never took any semblance of a break from playing shows. Mark, Johnny, and Drew’s intricately woven guitar parts still feel fresh, and seeing Wendelin make extraordinarily complex drum parts look and feel effortless never gets old. Even minute details like the inevitable tuning changes between songs felt smoother and less awkward than they usually are, and their intonation during songs, historically a bit of a weak point, was spot on. The band played a healthy dose of their 2009 full-length A Forest of Polarity, as well as two additional new songs, one of which had never been played live and absolutely deserves to be heard more than once. The night was closed out with their ten-minute album closer “Sea Frailty,” which maintained all the intensity of the recorded version even without the presence of horns and strings. While Rooftops never intended to bill this night as a “last show,” they did announce towards the end of the set that guitarist Drew Fitchette was moving to the New York in three weeks, leaving the future of one of the absolute best bands in the region up to the captive audience’s interpretation.