mewithoutYou, Kevin Devine, Foxing & Field Mouse played Bowery Ballroom (pics, review, setlist)
photos by Mimi Hong, words by Andrew Sacher
mewithoutYou @ Bowery Ballroom - 7/17/15
mewithoutYou wrapped up their tour with Foxing and Field Mouse over the weekend, hitting NYC at Bowery Ballroom on Friday (7/17). mewithoutYou haven't ever stopped making good records or putting on good live shows, but this year's Pale Horses does still feel like a "we're back!" moment for them, and the Bowery show did too. Not counting last year's Catch For Us The Foxes 10th anniversary tour, this was the biggest and most energized crowd I've seen for them in NYC in a while. If it wasn't sold out, it was definitely close, and people were singing and clapping along all night.
The band sounded very consistent too. When they first came out with the whimsical indie folk of a song like this, it was a little jarring coming from a band who once made heavy post-hardcore like this. (They're good at both sounds though.) Pale Horses ties their many styles together without ever leaning too far in a particular direction, which helped their live set do the same. They included all three "spider" songs from Brother, Sister, but instead of having them lead into songs from that album, each led into a different Pale Horses song seamlessly. They opened their encore with the opening song of Catch For Us The Foxes ("Torches Together"), and then brought out their old pal Kevin Devine to wrap up with two very different album closers. First they did the campfire folk of "Allah, Allah, Allah" and then shifted to the intricately-layered art rock of "In A Sweater Poorly Knit." Hearing those three in a row showed in one batch of songs how diverse mewithoutYou can get. And hearing this year's "Red Cow" right into 2006's "Nice & Blue, Pt. 2" earlier in the night showed just how well the new material works with their more classic songs.
Kevin Devine wasn't the only guest during their set. They also brought out Conor Murphy, frontman of opening band Foxing, to play trumpet on "Cattail Down." He got massive cheers when he came out, which is pretty amazing considering he's of the opening, much-younger band. But it makes sense -- the two bands are a great fit. Like mewithoutYou, Foxing bring their vocals to a scream just enough times that they'll probably get called "post-hardcore," but they're more interested in making ambitious, genre-defying rock music than sticking to the typical characteristics of any one genre. Conor's voice is a beautiful falsetto as often as it's a rough yell, and instrumentally the band nears Caspian or This Will Destroy You-style post-rock. I've seen them a few times before, but Friday's set had to be the best. They were aided by a violinist/keyboardist for the whole set, a sax player for one song and a clarinet player for another, which had them sounding even more epic than usual. (I don't like to throw that word around, but this set really was epic.) And while Foxing probably won over a few mewithoutYou fans on this tour, I wouldn't be surprised if the opposite happened as well. They're a talented young band, and rising quickly. Maybe some of their fans who missed the boat on mewithoutYou discovered that band through this tour too.
More pictures from Bowery Ballroom, and mewithoutYou's setlist, below...
mewithoutYou at Bowery Ballroom - 7/17/15 Setlist (via)
Nice & Blue, Pt. 2
Magic Lantern Days
Tie Me Up! Untie Me!
Cattail Down (with Conor from Foxing on trumpet)
Wolf Am I! (And Shadow)
Fox's Dream of the Log Flume
Mexican War Streets
Allah, Allah, Allah (with Kevin Devine)
In a Sweater Poorly Knit (with Kevin Devine)