Show Review

Mates of State @ The Grog Shop

Brent Andermann
So a nervous man with a youthful face and demeanor walks on stage. Obviously he was the magician who’s name was scratched out on the show flyer in the venue’s entrance hall. I use the word youthful because he was, basically, a kid like myself. Everyone could tell that he was nervous. He still tried to be professional and show as much enthusiasm about this thing that he loved. It showed in his expressions and in his movements. He was pulling everything inward that he felt outward and brilliantly articulated a love for magic, however unamused the faces looking back at him might have been. That folks, was the tone of the night. Cleveland, or a tiny fraction of the Northeast Ohio area, came out to either fold their arms or show off their paisley dresses and drunken dance moves. This man’s passion meant nothing. Todd Barry, who you’ve probably seen on some comedy central show or Flight of the Conchords (I know this because at least three people yelled something about it at random times during his set), couldn’t even get through his set without people mocking him and treating him as a novelty. Yes, comedy is supposed to be for your entertainment and to make you laugh. It’s also a respected art form. With that said, I have to mention that Todd became so frustrated with folks yelling things at him that he decided to spend a few minutes to poke fun at the crowd. The material was funny. He is a funny man. I’m not at all disputing that, but I didn’t feel a connection with anything he was saying. I guess because of the bands that he is touring with, he kept it relevant to the hipster/indie scene. Most of the jokes were about living in his New York apartment, trendy eco-friendly items that smell that make you smell like dog shit, and Facebook.

By the time Free Energy came on there was random drug use, grimacing hipsters wearing sunglasses indoors, a dance party who’s guest list apparently only included the shit-faced girls to my right and left who’s obscene rants to everyone around them were beyond my logic or reason, and the few people that I could pick out of the crowd who looked like they love music and thus were there for that reason. Free Energy on record is nothing amazing. On stage, they were musically tight and did not “put on a show”. The looks on their faces said, “ We love this music. We’ll let it speak for itself. We’ll still be happy if you don’t dance and have fun. We would prefer that you do, though.” Some did. Some just kept yelling “When are Mates of State gonna fucking come on? This shit is retarded.” Of course, the person who yelled this repeatedly was extremely intoxicated.

Mates of State came on around midnight I believe. While they’re on tour this summer to support a cover album that they just put out recently. They only played two songs off that record. Instead they played exactly the songs that they knew their fans wanted to hear. I must say something about this couple who write these perfect upbeat pop songs. The words that they sing and the notes that they play are exactly who they are. There wasn’t a moment during their set when Kori didn’t look over at Jason banging away on his drum kit and vice versa. They just sang and smiled at each other. After thirteen years of playing these songs together, their wasn’t one thing about what they were doing up there that wasn’t genuine. It was uplifting to see love translated into something that they can share with everyone. Highlight of the night is a tie: Their rendition of Death Cab For Cutie’s “Technicolor Girls” and their song that Jason said with giddiness and excitement “was inspired by an episode of the Simpson’s” about Unicorns.