Rocky Votolato performed Wednesday ahead of mewithoutYou at Skully's.
As I mentioned in this week’s Staff Pick of the mewithoutYou show at Skully’s Wednedsay, I’ve long been a fan of the band and their dynamic live shows. In the past, I’ve seen the band kicked out of a venue for spitting on a church wall (accidentally, they’re much too kind to do something like that on purpose); crowds flood the stage for encore sing-alongs; fans hanging from ceiling rafters; fans (and other bands’ members) join the group onstage for portions of songs; and onstage flailing and thrashing usually reserved for the metal-est of bands. There’s a reason they’ve built an extensive following with little in the way of traditional marketing (radio airplay, music videos, corporate sponsorhips, etc.).
While Wednesday’s show might not have been the craziest mewithoutYou show I’ve seen, it was quite possibly the best.
The band opened with “February, 1878,” the lead cut off its latest album, Ten Stories (a song whose music video was filmed, in part, at Rumba in 2012), followed by “Fox’s Dream of the Log Flume,” “Nine Stories,” and “Messes of Men.” All of songs are driving, energetic, forceful songs that illustrate how propulsively vibrant this band can be — a welcome change from the Rumba show where the band was also without new member Brandon Beaver (I can only presume that’s his real last name, though given the amount of woodlands creatures that now appear regularly in songs and artwork, you’d never know).
Speaking of Beaver, the guitarist was a welcome addition to the band’s live ensemble, filling out its sound with layers of intricate guitar work and extra vigor.
I was entranced throughout the opening four songs, and then opener Rocky Votolato cames on stage to help with the rousing, ending refrain of “Timothy Hay.” They could have called it a night there, but proceeded to play long-time fan favorites (if I remember correctly) like “A Glass Can Only Spill What It Contains,” "Music of a Widow," “Nice and Blue (Pt. 2),” “My Exit, Unfair,” and “January 1979,” the lead single off of Catch Us for the Foxes, the song that also initially got the band some MTV buzz back in the day.
By the time mewithoutYou ended with “In a Sweater Poorly Knit” (again with Rocky on stage), I was ecstatic. One of my favorite songs (it was the one that led to the aforementioned stage bumrush and ceiling rafting-hanging), I was thrilled, reminded once again why the group's my favorite of all-time.
And I haven’t even touched on Rocky Votolato’s set, which was amazing in its own way, too. Rocky was the first musician I ever interviewed, and I was nervous as all get-out. He was, of course, nice as hell. I’ve followed his career intensely since, but had yet to see him live. Wednesday was everything I'd hoped it would be all those years ago.