Show Review

Marianas Trench @ House of Blues 11/20/2015

                                                                                                                                                                                       (Lotz/2015)
Nick Lotz

The crowd at the show is an interesting mix. I was expecting a cavalcade of emo kids dressed up in full scene attire. I don’t know a lot about the band, but their videos feature mainly the front man, Josh Ramsay, with windswept bangs singing sappy yet sarcastic lyrics.

I was more interested in seeing the opening act, Secret Someones, than anything else. They’re pretty cool on stage, with three female leads and an Andy Warhol looking bloke playing drums and acting as hype man. The lead singer has a nice voice, and all three female leads look like American Apparel models. I’m not here to cover this band, but their show is a bit basic for my tastes, albeit quite fun. My plus one calls it, “Pop punk with country vocal influences and weird rage against the machine interludes.” I counter by calling it, “Teenage power ballad pop with electronic samples mixed in.” We both pretentiously straighten our horn-rimmed glasses and I write down that it gives me a Radio Disney vibe.

After Secret Someones exits the stage, there’s a full thirty-minute wait for Marianas Trench  to come on. For some reason, unbeknownst to me, they entertain the crowd at House of Blues by playing annoyingly perky 80’s pop tunes.

The show does eventually start, and despite my best intentions to remain aloof, detached, and pretentious about the situation, I enjoy it. Marianas Trench opens with “Astoria,” and it’s a lot more powerful and screamo live, with a wubby-wub synth bass that reminds me of Muse. The opening number wraps with some nice harmonizing which sounds eerily similar to the harmonizing in “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

The next song is more what I expected, however, I’m starting to warm up to Marianas Trench. They put on a much more interesting and interactive live show than their music videos would suggest they do. My plus one holds up his phone and it reads “New Found Glory + My Chemical Romance + Fall Out Boy.” He puts it away and says, “There you go. That sums up the band for you.”

“I can cry and suck it up/I just can’t fuck it up,” everyone is singing along with these lyrics so I assume this is a popular hit, but it’s my least favorite so far. I ask the girl standing next to me what the name of it is and she laughs condescendingly in my face saying she doesn’t know then returns to singing along with the lyrics perfectly (I look it up later and find out it’s called “All to Myself.”)

As the concert progresses, it gets less and less screamy and wub-wubby and has more and more twangy T. Swift sounding country chords. It’s an interesting take on pop punk, just not what I had expected. At one point the concert turned into an almost Christian gospel kind of scene.

Josh Ramsay, the front man for the band, puts on a very interesting live show, and throughout the remainder of this show review I’ll talk only about him and his stage presence as I feel he is essentially the focal point of the entire band.

He yells at the crowd that he, “Doesn’t know how they do things in America,” (Ramsay is from Canada). Then he points out a forty five year old guy with a mustache and two people dressed up like Jedi knights and dresses them down in front of the whole crowd. However, they all love it. Yay! Fuck old guys and Jedi knights! I can’t tell if he’s making fun of the crowd or having fun with them, but they all love it regardless.

During the next song, everyone in the audience holds up paper heart cut outs that say, “You’re our one love,” and Ramsay launches into “One Love,” a kind of angsty tune highlighted by a slideshow that plays continuously in the background showing pictures of various scene girls that I can only assume Ramsay has slept with. As a side note, the idea that you can only have “one love” in a lifetime is thoroughly depressing. I remember when I was a freshman in high school also.

I’m feeling nostalgic for a simpler, more hardcore time in my life at the Marianas Trench concert when Ramsay screamed and they played synth bass in the background, and everyone else must seem that way also because Ramsay promises they’ll “bring it back up” before launching into a fun, 80’s dance vibe kind of tune.  As I look at him dancing around all over the stage, I can’t help but come to the conclusion that he’s some sort of Anthony Kiedis/Michael Jackson hybrid creature. It’s pretty interesting.

My plus one points out that they have a very diverse makeup of songs, and I agree, because they drop into some nice keyboarding and everyone starts snapping along, so much so that I’m surprised the Jets and the Puerto Ricans don’t show up and dance fight.

It gets boy bandish at times, but they do a lot of “mother fucker” and “shut up” screaming. It’s a nice dichotomy. At one point, Ramsay is in the crowd screaming at them, “Shut up, shut up, shut up/ shut up and kiss me” and they’re playing a bass line that’s most definitely from a Jackson Five song, but it’s all good.

They have a scripted encore where they all leave and Ramsay comes back on stage and does a very extended crowd work (almost stand up comedy) routine and then plays an acoustic cover of “Take on Me” by A-ha. I can tell he and his fans have a very intimate relationship.
They close with “End of an Era” and it’s not bad, but I’d still pick “Astoria” as my favorite song from the set. There’s an orchestral harmony in the background and he’s singing with great pain and suffering, “Can you find forgiveness/so sorry again.”

Overall I’d say their music is kind of random and frantic, and their live shows seem to maintain this mood. However, their shows are quite fun, good times and a good crowd and I left happier than I was when the show began.