When Christopher Mansfield and his band, the group known as Fences, stepped out of the dressing room to perform at The Mercury Lounge in New York on Friday evening and walked on stage, it’s as if it had been mere moments before that he’d tapped into the place that allowed him to create Fences, and the acoustic, indie folk songs that have helped him become so popular over the last year.
It’s a habit he’s sort of developed.
He closes his eyes, and whisks you into his dirty little musical world, where things are good or bad, but they’re resolved in an intense and soulful way. Are they emo, really? Are they indie? Whatever they are, in an hour, Fences bridges the gap between the genres. They are grunge at its most rigid, rock at its most raw. Music as a personal love letter to life and all of its nuances and broken promises.
There aren’t any special lights or pyrotechnics at a Fences show. It doesn’t seem like the audience is a bunch of cool kids who are going to say ‘they knew about Fences since Ultimate Puke EP.‘ It’s not that kind of show, or maybe it is, and people find a way to check themselves at the door. The convoluted conversations that have become second nature at New York indie shows somehow don’t make it inside, and maybe it’s because at the core, there isn’t really more to Chris and his project, Fences, than a man and his guitar. A man who loves to make music, but didn’t know if he could without the luck and a friend at a label. Maybe that is what makes Fences resonate with so many people from so many places?
Watching Fences whisper their gratitude after a song, and continuing to play a set of songs off of their stunning, self-titled LP, is warm. You feel like you’ve contributed in some way to a band that wouldn’t be here other wise. Hearing “Girls With Accents” and looking around The Mercury Lounge to see other people mouth the words, feels special, like a concert in your living room, or a reading of your journal in front of an audience of accepting strangers… Like you’re not completely alone in the world.
On Friday night, Fences managed to fill a room with their music. And they’ve done it at The Mercury Lounge on more than one occasion.
And they played songs that prove, without a shadow of reasonable doubt, that creating music is still an artform.
Fences ended their tour last night in Baltimore, MD. You can catch them this summer at Bonnaroo!