When: Sat., Jan. 18, 9 p.m. 2014
Baltimore band Roomrunner included a sticker on last year’s Ideal Cities (Fan Death) that says simply, “Yes, we’ve heard Nirvana. Try harder.” I chuckled, at least. Partly because it’s a poke at critics who default to comparisons to Kurt and company, and partly because it’s apparently impossible for us to avoid doing exactly that—and to be fair, Roomrunner definitely nod to the angsty urgency of early-90s Seattle grunge, albeit with a noisy, adventurous twist derived from modern-day Charm City art-rock to keep it fresh. On “Weird” the nasal vocals of front man Denny Bowen toe the line between bratty and melodic in a pretty evocative way, but the track gets pummelingly, unflinchingly heavy—during the chorus it’s damn near hardcore. Throughout the album feedback plays a crucial role, harshing the chunky, grooving guitars whenever they lock into unison a little too perfectly (especially on “Wojtek”). It’s one of many things that help keep Roomrunner from sounding like a bunch of radio-grunge revivalists—which they’re often too heavy and noisy to be in the first place. This show is part of the Tomorrow Never Knows festival. —Kevin Warwick Superchunk headlines; Roomrunner and Split Single open.