GIant Rooks play rousing show at Fonda Theatre

German five-piece indie-rock band Giant Rooks lived up to their name with a thrilling performance on Sunday at the Fonda Theatre. The band already has a number of anthemic songs that position them nicely for future stadium and arena shows, and in moments it’s easy to envision them following in the footsteps of acts like The 1975, Imagine Dragons, MUSE and Coldplay. A number of songs were played off their 2020 debut album Rookery, which has surpassed 200M streams internationally. Giant Rooks was founded by cousins Frederik Rabe who is the lead singer and guitarist Finn Schwieters, joined by bassist Luca Göttner, keyboardist Jonathan Wischniowski and drummer Finn Thomas, all quite talented on their own instruments.

LOS ANGELES, CA— DECEMBER 18, 2022 Singer, songwriter SOPHIE HOLOHAN LIVE photo by Victoria Smith @victoriasmithphoto

The guys were joined by 20-year-old San Jose folk singer-songwriter Sophie Holohan, who was fantastic and who coincidentally has a tune called “Good Mourning” while Giant Rooks have one called “Morning Blue”, both waxing about the a.m. blues. The crowd was loving Holohan from the start on “Cognitive Dissonance”, as she shared her lovely voice with a wonderful sense of dynamics. On “Your New Girlfriends” her voice rode her upper register effortlessly and the audience connected with the line, “I like you but I love the way I’ve changed”. The clever songwriting of “Good Mourning” was made more powerful with Holohan embodying the song with her powerful vocal moments, mashing up the tune with Billie Eilish hit “Happier Than Ever” before reverting back to her own song. The singer was cheerful, in a smitten kind of way on the love song “Butterfly Effect” and mentioned the house might know the lyrics to the next one, a cover of Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream”, which was rather organic and plucked in a dreamy way on guitar. Holohan mentioned her next song “Olive Branch” was a “weird one” but it was anything but and simply a showcase of her artistry. The folky ditty included wonderful runs, tackling whether old friends are worth it, and in another life it could totally have been included in the new award-nominated film The Banshees of Inisherin. Sophie Holohan’s final song was “Codependent”, soaring on the timeless ballad, paired with near-perfect moments on her guitar. She may remind some of a more folk-pop-centered Sierra Ferrell. The beautiful song absolutely made you feel something, with multiple “woos” from the crowd throughout.

LOS ANGELES, CA— DECEMBER 18, 2022 GIANT ROOKS LIVE, from Berlin, Germany. photo by Victoria Smith @victoriasmithphoto

Giant Rooks played about 75 minutes, building the mood with blue lights and piano keys twinkling out a melody and the band was high energy with frontman Rabe’s hands up to the ceiling and the band silhouetted for “The Birth of Worlds”. Rabe waved to fans from each side of the stage as he made the band’s presence known. His voice has such a signature to is, and the drums, keys and guitars sounded wonderful in unison, as Schwieters, Göttner and Wischniowski handled the beautiful “ohh ohh ohhs”. Danceable rock song “Heat Up” kept the fans moving and Rabe grabbed a tambourine.

“Good evening Los Angeles, we are Giant Rooks, all the way from Berlin. Are you ready? Let’s go!” Magenta stage lighting flooded the space on “100 mg” and bassist Göttner had a little moment, with the band and crowd enjoying a rousing call and response with everyone clapping. Rabe told the audience that it was their third time in Los Angeles in 2022 and that they were grateful before going into “Bright Lies”, with stellar guitars from Schwieters and Göttner, framing the vocal. Rabe’s other shining moment was while hitting a drum pad and later a drum at the end like his life depended on it. The strobe lights flashed and the percussion from Thomas was awesome, truly exciting the crowd.

Giant Rooks played a new pop/rock song with the lyric “let me go”, with Rabe moving about the stage like a jumping bean, dancing during the instrumental. “We released our debut album two years ago, it’s called Rookery. We would like to play a few songs from that record”, shared Rabe. On “Very Soon You’ll See”, the background vocals from Göttner and Wischniowski were once again impressive, with Göttner’s bass vamp driving the addicting tune, along with solid percussion and Rabe now on guitar. Rabe mentioned that TikTok changed everything for the band, with their extended cover of Suzanne Vega’s 1992 smash “Tom’s Diner”. Suffice it to say, there was a lot of “doot doot dooting” from both the band and the crowd.

LOS ANGELES, CA— DECEMBER 18, 2022 GIANT ROOKS LIVE, from Berlin, Germany. photo by Victoria Smith @victoriasmithphoto

Giant shared that brand new song “For You” was written in Berlin a few weeks before their tour, with a bright rock and roll sound, memorable guitars, and multiple voices in harmony, sounding very much like it was inspired by The Beatles and Coldplay. “What I Know Is All Quicksand” was a standout because of it’s contrast between delicate and aggressive tempos and the band’s harmonious sound echoed brilliantly inside The Fonda. The crowd was eating it up and cheered during what seemed like the final acoustic chorus with a tinge of reggae in his voice, slowly backing away from the mic, like a timeless folk song. The final epic chorus sounded almost like a choir and rock band combined. The song they released over the summer was next, “Morning Blue”, a perfect, danceable pop/rock song with “ooh ooh oohs” and an “intoxicating” feeling, just like the lyric in the song.

Giant Rooks played their big song “Wild Stare” and Rabe headed into the crowd for much of it. The throwback piano has a timelessness like a hit by Gnarls Barkley or Amy Winehouse. The stage was flush in red for “Mia & Keira (Days To Come)”, blending rock with folky elements and Rabe was strumming the guitar and raising his arms when he was not. Guitarist Schwieters was on the floor playing and Rabe was atop the drum cube. The band barely left the stage and for what we will call their encore, they played the feel-good, falsetto-heavy “Watershed” with everyone dancing and hands up taking in the final joyful moments.

Words by Michael Menachem
Photos by Victoria Smith