Ryan and Nick of Mister Heavenly
Sunday night at Mercury Lounge was a line-up of misters, plus a Fort Lean. Mister Heavenly was of course the main draw, with the combined powers of Ryan Kattner (Honus Honus) of Man Man, Nick Thorburn of Islands and The Unicorns, and Joe Plummer from Modest Mouse. The supergroup appeal translated to fans of all threes bands, because who doesn’t want to check out a band of seasoned and respected musicians with serious chops and a slightly morbid sense of humor? Thorburn’s Elvis-style hip swiveling was also a nice touch.
While there was still enough room to be able to grab a drink from the bar without worrying about not being able to get back up to the front of the stage, Fort Lean played a fun and drunken surf grunge set. They brought a laid back summer vibe to the night, especially the shirtless singer/guitarist, who had bleached blonde palm tree-shaped hair and seemed as though he had just gotten back from getting drunk on the beach and barbequing with his friends. He had a lot of energy and was full of precarious punk moves, but kept it tight with the band to bang out their catchy rhythms.
Next up was the first mister of the night: the increasingly familiar stylings of Mr. Dream, who has already popped up on BestNewBands.com a couple times. The more times I see this band, the more I realize how consistent they are. They always come with the punk energy and antics, mischievous attitude and swagger, “oi oi” kind of lyrics, and amusing banter. At least, between the two frontmen, vocalist/guitarist Adam Moerder and vocalist/bassist Matt Morello. Drummer Nick Sylvester is stoic behind the kit as ever. This self-described “self-plowing rock band” is aptly described, and they mean every bit of it. They played a new song, “Suggested Plowing,” and although the lyrics are all but completely indiscernible, they mean that too. Mr. Dream can be counted on to rock hard with no apologies, every time.
Mister Heavenly opened with a rather appropriate introduction - the song, “Mister Heavenly.” This song is a prime example of their pioneering of their own doom wop genre, as well as what is most likely a major reason for the band even forming: how great their dynamic is. Thorburn and Kattner’s voices do blend nicely, in a way that shifts the mood in songs. They’ve described their dynamic as a yin and yang, but a Jekyll and Hyde analogy could also be fitting. The way they switch back and forth allows each songwriter to showcase their individual aesthetic, but still combine all distinct elements into one well-concocted doom wop milkshake. This was especially showcased at the end, when they seamlessly went into the encore portion of their set. Kattner began with a solo Man Man-style keyboard rocker, then Thorburn played a solo song on guitar, featuring Plummer on shaker and tambourine. They went out with Kattner on vocals and stage diving, so all the ecstatic fans in front got to cop a bit of a feel and go home with that story to tell.
This was the last show in a long run that misters had together. Mister Heavenly heads to Europe to play shows till December, and Mr. Dream look to be taking a break from shows until their west coast tour in the spring. Fort Lean have a couple more local NYC dates, listed on their Bandcamp.