Photos & Words: Wei Shi
I caught the first sold out show on Friday, July 9, 2010 with curiosity and excitement. The tour features variety acts as openers so I didn’t know if I was to expect flamethrowers or jugglers. Magician, Andrew Goldenhersh, hopped on stage first and pulled two live chickens out of thin air after escaping a straight jacket so I guess that answered my question. No magic show would be complete without asking volunteers from the audience to tie the straight jacket nice and tight of course. The crowd seemed to enjoy the entertainment and laughed readily during the act.
Ever seen a hipster stand-up comedian? Well, next up was Echo Park’s very own Nick Thune. Guitar in hand, Nick threw jokes all over the place while maintaining a deadpan expression behind horn-rimmed glasses. He conversed with the audience like his stand-up show on Comedy Central and kept them laughing with jokes about giving empty gift cards. The variety act openers offered a refreshing lineup compared to the traditional concert experience.
The only actual opening band took the stage next. Free Energy, a Philadelphia power pop band released their debut album, “Stuck on Nothing,” this year through DFA Records. James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem produced the album. This band makes it impossible to be unhappy when you see them. Sleek haired frontman, Paul Sprangers, sauntered and danced around the stage while the other band members shred with smiles on their faces. They played irresistible feel good music with a throwback to classic rock.
Finally, the time came for Mates of State’s set. They transformed the stage into a colorful explosion; bright pieces of fabric adorned Kori Gardner’s keyboard/organ stand while a rug underneath Jason Hammel’s drumset gave the stage a cozy atmosphere. They played some old favorites like “Fluke” and “Whiner’s Bio” along with a few cover songs from their new album, “Crushes (The Covers Mixtape),” released on June 15, 2010. It was a perfect blend of old and new. On the band’s Web site, they explained that, “We’ve been talking about doing a covers record for a long time. We’d hear a great song at 2 AM while driving the straight line from one part of Texas to the next, and all we’d want to do is play that song as if we had written it.”
The husband/wife duo stole glances and smiled at each other throughout the night; it was so endearing and I noticed a fair share of couples in the audience doing the same. Mates of State formed in 1997 in Kansas and they got married in 2001. Marriages and bands are often fleeting yet Mates of State have managed to thrive at both after all these years! Maybe it’s music therapy?
Perhaps the comedians earlier in the night had their lingering effects since Mates of State cracked a few jokes too. They jested about challenging The Echoplex downstairs to a noise level duel since the beats of club night directly underneath bumped too loudly. Jason also joked that it was Kori’s birthday only to admit he was teasing after the crowd went “Awww.”
Mates of State’s music makes you feel happy and in love. Even the backing band (two musicians mainly on guitar and trumpet) got hyped up and danced around in the back. They were so into the music and the feeling was completely contagious. Mates of State came back on for an encore and Kori joined Jason on drums right before the night ended.
The pure joy of the show lingered as I heard someone singing one of the encore songs, “My Only Offer,” on my walk home. Yeah, it’s safe to say that the Mates of State’s show started off this summer right.
Mates of State Setlist:
True Love Will Find You In The End (Daniel Johnston Cover)
You Are Free
Long Way Home (Tom Waits Cover)
For the Actor
At Least/Total Serendipity
Technicolor Girls (Death Cab for Cutie Cover)
Laura (Girls Cover)
My Only Offer
Sleep Around the Clock (Belle & Sebastian Cover)
I Will Dare (The Replacements Cover)
Goods (All In Your Head)
MATES OF STATE
Mates of State – “Fluke”
Nick Thune @ The Echo
Andrew Goldenhersh @ The Echo