Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Concert Review - mewithoutYou - Mr Smalls - 8/9/10 - Show Review - Pittsburgh

One can be certain that whatever price a ticket to see mewithoutYou is completely worth it, and more. Perhaps it is their powerful lyrics shouted, whispered, and serenaded by Aaron Weiss that hit in waves to all those weak spots of the psyche. Or the never-disappointing, always-awe-ing collection of opening bands. Or the experience itself of being in a venue with many passionate people who share the common love of expression and music. Regardless of the reason, a mewithouYou headlining show is a near religious experience, this past Monday the ninth was no exception. The worthy openers were Murder By Death and Buried Beds, which promised three solid acts to do Mr. Small's very well.


 
From the moment I set eyes on the stage set up I was intrigued. Buried Beds had a few floor toms, a keyboard, a violin, and a homemade cymbal toting fixture in addition to the drum kit and guitars set up. I had not listened to anything from this Philadelphia band, though I had been promised I would love. They got on the tour because they are long time friends with Aaron Weiss and the entire mewithoutYou crew. Eliza Jones and Brandon Beaver started the band as just a musical outlet in 2003, but since then have blown up to be widely known. When they took the stage, unlike a lot of first acts, seemed comfortable and looked as if they were having a blast. Their sound was captivating to say the least. It was bouncy, catchy, passionate and groovy. Male and female vocals bounced back and forth with harmonies from the entire band. At first I thought, Rockabilly + Post-Rock + Harmonies, but after later review I concluded that Buried Beds is just fantastic and a band that all can enjoy. Their newest album, from which most of their set list was comprised, "Tremble The Sails" has been on repeat since Monday night.


Next up was Indianna's Murder By Death. They have been playing music since 2000 and have five -varying in concept- albums. From zombies to devils all with a western, rock, and instrumental influences. The first thing I noticed about Murder By Death was the massive Bass their bassist was hooking up to the abundance of pedals by his feet. Such a detail seems very significant in retrospect. My biggest and only complaint about their set was the over powering bass tones. It turned what would have been a unique set with an electric upright bass, accordian, and keyboard accents into a sludgy mass of sound that left everyone around me begging for a break. To my surprise, many of the audience members were singing along with great enjoyment. I was not disappointed by their set, although I was not impressed. I could, however, pin this to my anxiousness for mewithoutYou to begin.


I had a similar experience last summer when mewithoutYou brought Kay Kay and His Weathered Underground and The Dear Hunter to Mr. Smalls in support of "It's All Crazy! It's All False! It's All A Dream! It's Alright," their most recent album. It has a dramatically different feel than the first three which all had a lot more post-hardcore influence, while it is a lot more folk inspired musically. I am infinitely more moved by their older music, but this did not stop me from attending the show last summer. My first mewithoutYou show could have gone either way, especially due to my lack of intense interest in their new material. Fortunately, I was blown away by Kay Kay And His WeatIhered Underground (just like Buried Beds) and had from the beginning of their set convinced myself that it would be a wonderful night. After the excitement had build up, I had little attention span for anything other than mewithoutYou. Thus, I cut The Dear Hunter (and Murder By Death) way shorter than they deserved.


Like any event I build myself up for I told myself, "nothing else matters, mewithoutYou is up next!" I could hardly wait any longer and was overjoyed to see the boys walk humbly to the stage. They opened up with "A Stick, A Carrot & String" from "It's All Crazy..." followed by "January 1979" from "Catch For Us The Foxes." This pattern continued, with a few exceptions, for the remainder of the set (a new song gracefully turning into a song from "Foxes," and "Brother, Sister"). I was warned that Aaron and the entire band seemed haggard this tour, as if playing their music was getting old to them, but after their performance I was elated to learn that that was not the case at all. Aaron bounced from one side of the stage to another as he had last year, Mike shredded guitar as he always has, Greg jammed out on Bass like before, and Rickie played drums more enthusiastically than any drummer I have seen this year. And just as last year, I got chills from their set. After they had finished their last song, I did not think my night could get any better. I was so wrong! They came out for the best encore I have quite possibly ever seen. What I mean by this: they played my favorite song from their first album, "[A-->B] Life" that they never perform live, "Gentleman." Any mewithoutYou fan knows that such an occurrence is near legendary. It was the final confirmation that Monday would be a night I would not soon forget.

-Laura Lee Burkhardt

5 comments:

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  2. I saw my first mewithouYou show a few days later at the Bowery Ballroom in NYC and then went down to Philly for the final concert of the tour. I agree that both shows were a "near-religious" experience. I was (and still am ) haunted by the seemingly fragile beauty that is Aaron Weiss, and to see him perform his songs live is indescribable. It's interesting to see that it was a different set list a few days later: they opened with "messes of men" and did not do "gentlemen."
    The energy was superb, but maybe the "haggardness" you heard about might have been due to the family events that were occuring and occured during their tour?
    Aaron sang the beginning of a new son, "whatever comes", at both shows and it seemed like he was trying not to cry (at which point of course I started to cry!)Overall my first two mwY concerts will always stand out in my mind as a few in hours in which a world that I always hoped believed in actually existed - truly a profound experience!
    My only selfish wish is that they tour again (sooner than later)though I wish them success in their own personal endeavors. Thanks for a wonderful article and some great photos!!!

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