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A 'living room' concert experience with Mates of State
For those of you who bummed out on the couch last night because Miley Cyrus ended up hospitalized in Kansas City instead of onstage at Sprint Center, you should have drowned your sorrows at the Granada. While there was no indecent gyrating, flashy bear-inspired costumes or tongue action (I can’t believe I just wrote that), Mates of State ended their set with a tribute to her with “We Can’t Stop.”
They performed the bare-bones version, of course, as the entire intimate concert was designed to abandon their synthesizers and bring in piano, drums trumpet, saxophone, cello and occasionally acoustic guitar.
The small crowd gathered near the front of the stage weren't exactly expecting the words “Red cups and sweaty bodies everywhere” to come out of Kori Gardner’s mouth, following their first encore song “Like You Crazy.” That one, after all, had been requested (ahead of time) by her grandmother, who sat among about 10 of Gardner’s relatives.
But I’ll be the first to say, they did not disappoint those who ventured out. It was a fairly empty venue, with the single row of 20 seats almost all taken and plenty of room on the floor for old friends of Mates, and longtime fans of all ages.
“Thanks for coming out to see us tonight,” Gardner said. “We know John Cale is right down the street.”
Speaking with Gardner a couple weeks ago, she said that the goal was to experience the music in a new way, as if absorbing the contents in a more relaxed setting. It was as if the show were taking place in their living room with their laid back attitude, having conversations in between sets with any fan who shouted something their way, and their loving interactions with each other during songs.
The addition of incredible solos by the trumpet and saxophone player added warm textures to a set that I can only compare to a sigh of relief.
Their cover of “Long Way Home” felt the most stripped down, closely resembling Tom Waits’ original, which left room for the beauty and simplicity to flood into the space as a breathtaking duet. Their version on 2010 “Crushes (The Cover Mixtape)” is much quicker, and with distracting “yeahs” shouted throughout the song.
Gardner and Hammel followed with “Get Better,” leaving room the end for the cellist to solo. There’s something about watching a stringed musician live that brings the crowd to a hush in order to take in the fluid motion and rich intensity.
And someone has to say it: This is the most beautiful couple to come out of Lawrence. After the small preview with one new song, I can't wait until their next record comes out. They may just take it in the basic format direction, Gardner says.
Set List (approximately):
So Many Ways
Fraud in the ‘80s
Unless I’m Led
You Are Free
My Only Offer
Long Way Home (Tom Waits)
Parachutes (Funeral Song)
Like You Crazy
We Can’t Stop (Miley Cyrus)