Diario

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  • Very Unprofessional...And All The Better For It

    Apr 24 2010, 4:44

    Fri 23 Apr – Rock The Plaza

    I don't think I've ever been more excited for a free concert as I was for this year's Rock the Plaza. Mae is one of my absolute favorite bands (currently one of my top ten most played in the past year), one who releases consistently exceptional music. No matter what, I knew I would have a good time, but I didn't expect Mae to pull something that I've ever seen at a show before in my life.

    But first, the openers. The first band on stage was a local band called South Texas Hicks, the winners of the TAB Singer/Songwriter contest. They reminded me of a bit of Nickel Creek--very Bluegrassy/Americana. They only played three songs, but they made an impression on me. The singer is ridiculously powerful; not just in volume, but in emotion. He's got the perfect voice for the music they play, and he's got some good range. The percussion consisted solely of a Conga Drum and a tambourine. The last song they played, "Trippin' in the Bayou," was sung by their rhythm guitarist, and really got the crowd into them. Overall, it was an amazing performance, one that drew me in much more than a new band had done in a very long time. I think if these guys keep going, they could really be on to something.

    Next up was Colours, from Dallas. I'd never heard any of their songs, but as I was hoping, they sounded very similar to Mae. These guys played a six-song set, and put a lot of heart into each song (even though the crowd seemed almost hesitant to show any emotion for them). They played with passion regardless, and some of their songs were very memorable (such as "Change Is Good"). I'm glad I got the free sampler disc at the show; they have definite potential to become the next Mae or Copeland if they refine their sound a bit.

    But the main show was definitely Mae! Before going to the show, I was curious as to whether it would be an acoustic set or a full band set; I was pleasantly surprised to learn that they had five members again, and that this would be a full-on rock show (their first in six months, they said). I was lucky enough to hear them play a couple songs during their warm-up before the show, but it wasn't anything compared to their show.

    The setlist for the show benefited from being very varied--there was old stuff and new stuff, hits, fan favorites and b-sides. They started with two songs from 'Destination: B-Sides': "Tisbury Lane" and the instrumental "Futuro." The first is slow and soft, while the second one built up momentum into their first song from their proper albums: "This Is The Countdown." At this point, I figured most of the crowd would start jumping...but they didn't. It was just me (in case you were there, I was the black guy right up against the stage jumping like crazy by myself).

    The set continued normally from there: "Suspension," "All Deliberate Speed," "Painless" among others. All were played well, with funny and witty banter interspersed here and there. Once they got to "Just Let Go," however, the show took a very surprising turn. Dave asked all the couples to come up on stage and, one by one, take turns dancing while they played. The first few couples to go up slow danced, and some of them simply danced across the stage in crazy fashion (one guy even moonwalked!). After that, they bantered a bit (enjoyably) before deciding on stage to change the setlist, and played "The House That Fire Built" instead of "A Melody, A Memory." It happened again with the song right after: instead of playing "In Pieces," they played "Embers & Envelopes." This is about where the show became very interesting.

    Now, I've been to quite a few concerts, and at every concert, people shout out what they want the band to play ("FREEBIRD!"). But this is the very first show I've ever been to where the band took the people's suggestion to heart. They presented a challenge: anyone who would submerge themselves in the fountain in the middle of the audience would get to choose one song that the band would play. The songs chosen were: "Crazy 8's," "Sun," "A Melody, A Memory," "Anything," and "Someone Else's Arms." Someone also suggested that the band play "We're So Far Away"...and they would've, had they not been short on time. The songs they played were "Crazy 8's" (with an altered chorus), "Sun," "Anything," and "Someone Else's Arms" (in that order). "Crazy 8's" in particular was curious, because their new bassist had to learn it on the fly; it was perhaps the rawest performance of a song I'd ever seen, but it made it much more personal. All the other songs were done perfectly, and "Someone Else's Arms," being the closer, was perhaps the most energetic performance the band gave all night (which is interesting, because the song wasn't even on the original setlist).

    I've never been to a show where the band actually changed the set list to appease the audience...it was amazing! I think that might be my favorite thing about the show: how laid back it was. Mae had so many people up on stage with them throughout the show; one guy even played keyboards for one of the songs. By the band's own admission, it was tad bit "unprofessional," but I think it was much more enjoyable that way. But then again, it would've been enjoyable anyways...I mean, it is Mae ;-).

    All in all, the show wasn't anything like I thought it would be, but it was everything I had hoped for. I wish the crowd had been more into it, but the band can only do some much for them. Overall, though I had an awesome time there, and I feel bad for anyone who missed out on the show!

    8/10

    FINAL MAE SETLIST:
    - Tisbury Lane
    - Futuro
    - This Is The Countdown
    - Suspension
    - All Deliberate Speed
    - Painless
    - Ready And Waiting To Fall
    - Soundtrack for Our Movie
    - Summertime
    - Just Let Go
    - The House That Fire Built
    - Embers and Envelopes
    - Crazy 8's (with an Altered Chorus)
    - Sun
    - Anything
    - Someone Else's Arms