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The Rentals Breathe New ‘Life’

BALTIMORE: Matt Sharp and crew deliver the goods, and a Weezer B-side!

Just a week after issuing the fresh Last Little Life EP to the masses, The Rentals caused the meek Sonar crowd in Baltimore to bounce in sync with while the more ostentatious pogoed, gyrated and slithered to a much more indistinguishable rhythm last night (Aug. 22). The L.A.-based six-piece kicked things off in style, opening their 17-song show with “The Love I’m Searching For,” a wit-tastic cut from 1995’s Return of the Rentals debut. Frontman Matt Sharp, who looks pretty ageless, sang, strummed and pounded on synthesizers, all the while dancing like a ballerina recently maimed by a Ford F150.

As the musicians traded places, instruments and microphones — Rentals regular Rachel Haden accompanied opening act Goldenboy on keyboards for a song, while Goldenboy’s Shon Sullivan returned the favor by playing guitars throughout the Rentals’ entire set — one thing remained constant: the Moog at center stage, which has been the epicenter of the group’s sound. The Rentals waited until their third song to tap into newer tunes such as “Life Without a Brain,” with Yosemite Sam-mustachioed Ben Pringle leaving his keyboards in the corner for a slide trombone.

Other notables came with “I Just Threw Out the Love of My Dreams,” a B-Side from Sharp’s Weezer days, with Haden on the Moog, sharing vocal duties with guitarist Sara Radle. And of course, that one classic song with the classic chorus was bound to come sometime. A friendly Sharp joked, “This song is called ‘Say Goodbye to Yesterday'” before breaking into “Friends of P.,” which sounded more like Karaoke than the radio hit of yesteryear. Who cares though? The adoring crowd ate it up and provided harmonies.

“There’s an error in the setlist,” chimed Sharp before settling into a shaky encore. “We were going to play “Waiting” to end the show, then we were going to go away, come back and play “Waiting” again.” The ending was short but sweet as the Rentals descended into “California,” but only to walk off stage and return three minutes later to end the night with “The Last Romantic Day.”

We asked: The Rentals latest EP is entitled The Last Little Life EP. What did you do in your previous life?