SHOW REVIEW: Carrboro sees mewithoutYou do it
by Heather MacIntyre
It was a difficult decision to make at first – to choose amongst all the shows going on this evening. The Chapel Hill scene seemed to be flooded with live music on Thursday night. The Cave, the Nightlight, Local 506… the list goes on, and most all of my friends were at the Russian Circles “experience” down the street. I proudly strutted into Cat’s Cradle (catscradle.com) on my own, looking forward to one of my personal favorite performances. I walked in just as the show began with an opening set from Telescreen (myspace.com/telescreenmusic), a progressive ambient-like shoegaze band from Winston-Salem (ex-members from Classic Case, Codeseven). Most of the weekend Triad show-attendees saw them play the following evening at Greene Street (greenestreetclub.com) with House of Fools and Pacifico. Front man Jared Draughon always delivers like a fountain of non-stop energy and complete focus on his singing. Arguably, some think he sounds better when he isn’t playing guitar; he is less distracted, and more of a front man.
I knew the show would sell well, but I was surprised – usually it’s not until the headliners are about to play do venues really start buzzing with people… you know that kind of swell in capacity where it’s just barely hot and cramped enough to complain, but the band is good enough to stay for. Maps and Atlases (mapsandatlases.org), the Chicago indie-rock quartet, took stage as the opening support for this tour with mewithoutYou, and I could already barely move around in the main room. Each of the members of Maps and Atlases individually possessed and showed so much skill in their personal instruments of choice that it seemed as if each addition were its own soloing moment. At this particular venue, the best spot in these situations is up front and stage left: you can see fine, but you are still on the outside. Thus, you are closer to the door for circulation of air and an easy escape route.
I couldn’t really get over the amount of “other things” going on during the show, which I guess stemmed from the allowance of re-entry: people congregating around front and back doors of the building, waiting for certain songs to come on to motivate them to mosey over to the stage, and then back to their respective social circle. The night had quite a few special guests (literally, as guests, not just performers), not limited to the clothing designer known as “Pratt” (Pratt clothing) who I hadn’t seen out since the last Chapel Hill Tooth and Nail headlining tour. Come to find out he moved to Sweden for a while. Probably one of my favorite things about Cat’s Cradle is the seating. Sure, all tickets are general admission, but separated areas of wooden seats are set off to the side by the sound board and run along the entire wall. This “bench seat” does convert immediately into a standing post soon as someone takes the stage with a bright light show.
The first time I ever saw mewithoutYou (and yes, “me” is lowercase, to represent human next to the importance of God – being the capitalized “You”), was in 2001 in a little house show in Charlotte, so it’s been amazing seeing the transformation into these big-time touring artists. They now travel in a bus larger than the house I originally saw them in. But their hype has spread like wildfire. The particular allure of mewithoutYou (mewithoutyou.com) is their nonstop, irony-laced, metaphorical lyrics and vocal presentation. The two brothers went to college and obtained English degrees, which became the focal point of their music career – the words. Though they are known as a “Christian” band, most all of their lyrics are brilliantly arranged so that anyone may interpret them as they’d like: religiously, romantically or in just a personal-moral sense of mind. The vocals are rarely sung, but mostly yelled, not screamed, as if you are at a loud, interpretive poetry reading where the writer just happens to have background music to their creative writing.
“You guys, we did also have a second and third album,” lead singer Aaron Weiss joked with the crowd in response to requests being yelled out from the earlier days, “but I know you just as well may respond with, “Ah, but Aaron, you also have a first album!'” He roared with laughter and asked everyone, “It’s just… how do you expect me to run around and yell angry words from a time when I thought a girl had done me wrong, and had broken my heart, only to grow up and realize years later that I was the wrong-doer. How do I yell about that still?” The members every once in a while gave a little bit of preaching, which always comes with their show, but luckily never turned it into a lecture – it was a concert after all.
A few songs from the end, Greensboro’s Urban Sophisticates (myspace.com/theurbansophisticates) jumped in with trumpet from Jeremy Denman and rapping from Benton James through a few verses to add a little something extraordinary to the otherwise obscure rock set. The entire performance was done to lead singer Weiss’s fairy-like flailing and dancing around on the stage like someone happily lost in a dreamland. A fan in the crowd presented them with a homemade loaf of bread that contained a scripture and request to break, take and eat for fellowship of friends. So, they passed it around as a sign of friendship and communion, and Weiss tried to finish singing his final tune with a mouth full of it. The night ended, and a lot of people lingered around; some formed a circle for a Bible lesson with Weiss. The rest of us headed out, and I grabbed their last two albums on vinyl on my way out the door.
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