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Concert Review: mewithoutYou is different than your average band

Photo by Will Montei
Photo by Will Montei

“I feel like I work with a bunch of guys that don’t want to be musicians,” said Michael Weiss, lead guitarist of mewithoutYou, after the show. This is such an odd thing to hear about one of your favorite groups. Despite the fact that they all enjoy what they do, it occurred to me that being a musician is a job for some, and not always a dream.

What Michael says seems very true when you take a step back and actually look at the band on stage — they look like a bunch of normal guys. Aaron Weiss, lead singer, dresses like the professor that he is in real life, while everyone else just put on some plaid shirts and jeans. They don’t bother with the ‘bohemian’ style that’s become so mainstream among indie-rock bands.

Even so, their music revels in being different. Combining spoken word vocals, indie, folk and post-hardcore all into one melting pot, they do things with their music, lyrically and otherwise, that other bands don’t. Some of them might just be doing their job, but the talent and passion they bring to it (even if they don’t want to be musicians) sets them apart.

Their stage presence, too, is different — perhaps even bizarre. Every time I’ve seen mewithoutYou, Aaron tries to wear a hat. He puts it on for a few moments, only to have it fly off, along with his glasses, the moment he starts dancing. I can’t help but feel this hat holds some significance, that there must be some reason to be so persistence in wearing it, but perhaps not. Perhaps it’s just a hat that Aaron likes.

It might just be one of his ways to subvert the expectations of the audience, like when he stands completely still and sings over a thrashing guitar breakdown. Occasionally he’ll stand at the front of the stage, caressing the mic stand against his cheek, and other times he’ll stand in the back by the drums, staring like a loose-lipped mannequin over the audience. All the while, I couldn’t help wondering what was going on in his head.

Clearly, mewithoutYou is a talented and engaging bunch; but still, they suffer from a problem — a problem they share with many talented rock bands. All of their originality, all of the lyrical complexity, emotion, and range of genre that’s found on their albums gets lost when they play live.

Halfway through the show, I realized that my mind was weaving in and out of focus. I almost felt like they had been playing one really long, loud song the entire time. I had to take a moment to refocus myself and get back into the music.

When I listen to their albums, I don’t question whether mewithoutYou has enough variety in their sound — but with their live show, I wondered. I could barely hear what Aaron was singing, and a lot of the guitar work just started to hurt my ears after a while.

This isn’t a problem unique to mewithoutYou, it’s a problem with rock shows in general. I don’t know how to fix it, but I want it to be fixed, because I want to go to a mewithoutYou show and experience their music to its full extent. I don’t want to go back in my mind and imagine the perfect balance I felt listening to their albums.

About the Author

Will Montei

Will Montei is a Chimes staff writer and arts and entertainment on-call writer for the 2012-13 school year.

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