If I had to describe mewithoutYou’s recent stop in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in one sentence, it would be this: “Come watch Aaron Weiss shred the flowers taped to his mic stand while he screams the lyrics to ‘Gentleman’.” I watched their stagehand come through with a bouquet and duct tape in between guitar tuning and soundcheck. I smiled and thought about how sweet it was, not even realizing how insane their set would be. This show was my first experience seeing mewithoutYou and I was not disappointed. All three bands that played were full of raw energy and talent.
The first band to take the stage was Slow Mass. Based in Chicago, they are one of the most talented opening acts I’ve seen this year. The energy they exude is completely infectious. I love seeing a band interact with one another on stage; I love a band who is in touch with all of their members, equally. The bassist stood out for her intricate and unique playing, as well as for her use of subtle vocals. Their second song, “Dark Dark Energy” especially displayed their creativity and originality. I never wanted their set to end.
I feel like bands choosing support for their tours have been more intentional and considerate, and it has paid off. Some of the best bands I’ve heard have been opening acts and it thrills me to see newer bands going on the road with bands who are seasoned and getting to watch today’s opening bands grow into their sound and eventually become tomorrow’s headliners.
I typically grab my merch before the show so I was all set by the time Slow Mass took the stage. Needless to say, I made another purchase after their set and let the band know how impressed I was. (Seriously, look them up – you won’t be disappointed). They’re loud and heavy and drove their sound forward in a way that really ignited the crowd and got us into the mood for the rest of the night.
The next band was Pianos Become the Teeth. I saw them perform in 2015 with The World Is a Beautiful Place and I Am No Longer Afraid to Die and I was so excited to see them play again. Their last album, Keep You, really resonated with me when I first heard it and I enjoyed getting to hear those songs live again. They also played a new song, “Charisma”, and that got me even more pumped for their 2018 release, Wait for Love. They really brought the show into a quieter spot with a lot of their setlist, mostly tracks from Keep You, which was a bit of a break when compared with Slow Mass.
Naturally, the whole reason the Sinclair was full was because of mewithoutYou. A band full of mystery and the topic of whimsical legends, I was excited to see how they’d bring that persona into their stage presence. They played their album [A→B] Life in its entirety, in honor of the 15-year anniversary of its release. The album is known for its heavier sound; I could hear the strain in Aaron Weiss’ voice as he yelled out the lyrics and it brought a new perspective to why they pulled back on a harsher vibe in their later releases.
There was actually a date on the tour where he lost his voice and they had to play the whole album acoustically. That was not the case, however, for this particular show, and the crowd was full of energy and raw affection for both the band and the songs that we’ve all been enjoying for a decade and a half.
Everyone around me stopped moshing after the band finished playing [A→B] Life and stood with rapt attention to the stage as Aaron and his brother Mike played the acoustic, hidden track version of “I Never Said That I Was Brave”. Aaron then stayed on stage alone with his acoustic guitar and played “Chapelcross Towns” and “Goodbye, I!” I’ve never heard a venue so quiet before. It was truly a lovely testament to just how much respect mewithoutYou garners. The rest of the band then returned and played five more songs from their discography, my favorite being “Torches Together”.
It’s truly special to be able to go to shows and spend the evening with people who are there with you to celebrate a musical milestone. mewithoutYou has been such a steady musical influence and it was a privilege to be able to experience an album that is still relevant 15 years later.
by Nadia Paiva
Nadia Paiva has been a music enthusiast since she can remember. Going to shows is her main pastime. The other is being upset when she can’t go to shows. This is her first official venture into writing about music. You can follow her on Twitter.