Mates of State Have Come a Long Way

Written by  Published in Live Reviews Saturday, 18 February 2012 19:17

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Friday night’s Mates of State show at Le Poisson Rouge was the first time I'd seen them in six years or so, and the first time I was at a sold out show of theirs. A few things about their set up and sound have changed, but Kori Gardner and Jason Hammel are still cute as ever, still constantly looking to each other to give cues, and still looking like they’re continuously sharing an inside joke that no one else could understand. They have two musicians joining them, but it’s also still clearly the two of them, team boo. The multi-instrumentalist in the back looked like their biggest fan, mouthing all the words to every song and getting down like no one else. He also added some cool trumpet parts and extra synth layers. The guitarist on the other side of the stage also filled out the songs more, while keeping it subtle. The sound was actually so good, it actually felt like a little bit of their earlier lo-fi magic was gone. Kori’s organ seemed like it had lost the myriad of analog voices that she used to play when it was just her and Jason, and now the sound was more homogenized. Not that I’m trying to hate on what they’re doing, since that is always the natural progression of things – going from dive bars to selling out a bigger venue with a state of the art soundsystem is what every band aspires to, as they should. But still, there’s something about those dive bars where a clunky analog organ sounds like it might short out the power at any moment that any indie music fan has a certain nostalgia for.

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The best thing about the show for me was the set list. They came on strong right away with “For the Actor” right into “My Only Offer.” They played several choice cuts from Team Boo, plus a brand new song (the song they were just starting to record?), and ended on “Palomino,” which they morphed into the chorus of Whitney Houston’s “How Will I Know” before waving to the crowd and heading off stage. Speaking of the crowd, this was also one of the more fun audiences to be in. A quick glance around revealed most people scream singing along and jamming out to every song. After the last song, the sold out venue echoed with chants of “Mates of State!” until the band came back for the encore. At this point, I was beginning to think that the show had been fun enough that it would be ok if they didn’t play the one song that I wanted to hear, the song that got me into Mates of State in the first place. But, being the cool couple they are, they must have known that there would be fans who loved their first album, My Solo Project, and boom, the last song of the night was “Proofs.” That was the real deal maker.

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Mates of State have several dates left of their tour that ends in Connecticut – see all dates on their tour page. You can also bond with Kori through her blog, give the band a like on Facebook, and blow up their Twitter.

Last modified on Tuesday, 21 February 2012 00:05
Kelly Knapp

I grew up listening to the music my parents listened to. My mom gave me some of her “Golden Oldies” cassette tapes, and I could sit in my room for hours harmonizing with The Ronettes, and staring at Del Shannon, who I thought was a total stud in his tiny black and white photo on the glossy fold-out insert. I listened to Willie Nelson because my Dad admired him so much, and I wanted to understand what was so great about him too. My first concert wasn’t a huge life changer; I saw Inner Circle at a local Jambalaya festival in Central Florida. Their biggest hit was “Bad Boys,” the theme song to COPS. If anything, that concert should have traumatized me. But, at the time I had no comprehension of any crassness. I just remember the guitarist making eye contact with me and smiling, and feeling excitement over having a brief connection with someone who was making me dance.

It’s the same thing with listening to music with words in another language. It’s not necessary to understand words or literal meanings. It’s the way the melodies and rhythms evoke feeling. It’s like that saying about art, how you may not be able to explain it, but you know it when you see it. I can’t always describe music (although obviously, I sure as hell try to), but I know what I like when I feel it, and I think those who can evoke that feeling deserve to be acknowledged for it. That’s what I want to describe. That’s what I want to share.

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