Selling it like 80’s Grunge

A note about the show I went to on Saturday night. As I mentioned, I hadn’t been to the Greek Theater in Berkeley since 1997. That night in 97, I was with friends iRich and J-Nard. The playbill was Ben Folds Five opening for Counting Crows. I’ve always had a fondness for the venue but didn’t know if I’d ever make it back. So when I saw the bill for Saturday night’s show, I jumped at the opportunity.
Mates of State opened the show. There has to be some serious pressure to open a 3 band show in a venue like that. I was really excited about seeing Mates of State. I’ve enjoyed their music, but the only other time I’d seen them live was in 110 degree (well, it was 110 in the shade and there was no shade to be found) Austin last September. My partner in crime and I were both just sitting on the grass (if you could call it that) trying not to think about the heat and not absorbing the music. The weather in Berkeley is much more cooperative for an outdoor show regardless of shade. Let me just say that Mates of State were AMAZING! There is so much energy and passion and reckless abandon in their music that you can’t help but buy what they are selling. I couldn’t help but think of the NW music scene in the early to mid nineties when Grunge music was the norm. One of the things that made grunge music so different and inviting was that the singers sang at the top of their lungs and all the musicians played their instruments as loud as they could. So if you’re unfamiliar with Mates of State, imagine if grunge had hit in the 80’s. So much sound, so much melody, harmony and greatness coming from two people, it’s incredible. They kicked the show off with “So Many Ways” and didn’t hold back. Kori Gardner was selling it and by the end of their set I wasn’t alone in wishing they could keep playing. I thought about posting some samples of their music for you, but instead I will direct you to their myspace page where you can preview some songs. They have “Fraud in the 80’s” as one of their streamed songs, which happens to be one of my favorites. A few weeks ago I pleaded for some upbeat music to load my iPod with and although the few suggestions that I got were good, Mates of State came through and reminded me that fun music exists. And one of the greatest moments of the show was when Kori and Jason came out of the wings and joined the headliners for a song.
I’ve enjoyed some of Spoon’s music, but I would never consider myself a big fan. Saturday night gave me an opportunity to remind myself of that. I think their music is pretty good, but after Mates of State blew my mind, it wasn’t anything more than I expected. One flattering thing that I could say about Spoon is that they had a very odd resemblance to if the Clash had come from Austin, Texas…but not as good as the Clash, don’t get me wrong.
The headliner was Death Cab…but also the part of the evening that I’d built up the most anxiety about. I was certain that I would be disappointed. I like their music, despite what other people might say, I think it’s pretty brilliant. I had a hard time trying to explain to people what kind of music it is with much clarity, because their name might suggest something else. Not only did they not disappoint me, but they reminded me of how good they are. Ben Gibbard might be one of the great songwriters out there…he might also have the same barber as me. I haven’t cut my hair since just a little before ACL last September and it looks like Ben hasn’t kept up either (follow links for comparisons ganked from random flickr users; ACL vs. Greek). I once had a friend describe Death Cab as the chubby/sweaty band…they were definately sweaty, though from my vantage point, I wouldn’t use the word chubby. Like I said they didn’t disappoint and Mates of State joined them for a song. Overall I’d say it was a pretty amazing show. I’ll be returning to the Greek Friday night for Ben Harper. I also have added Golden Smog to the Summer/Fall tour.

Buy Mates of State albums!!

Bring It Back
Our Constant Concern
Team Boo
My Solo Project

Buy Death Cab For Cutie albums!!

We Have the Facts and We’re Voting Yes
You Can Play These Songs With Chords

Buy Spoon!

Gimme Fiction

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