I was outnumbered at the Imperial on Sunday evening. Standing in a room full of people singing to every word to every song, I was definitely in the minority. But discovering two new bands that I really like was a nice ending to a really strange week.
I feel ashamed to admit it, but I wasn’t all that familiar with the music of Mt Joy, and I knew nothing of the opening band Wilderado, a foursome out of Tulsa Oklahoma. I would now consider myself a fan. Led by magnetic front man Max Rainer, they kind of sound like existential cowboys - a little mournful, a little hopeful, digging a little deeper into the highs and lows life. Totally my jam.
Mt. Joy is a band that needs no introduction. Even I know the song “Astrovan”, the hit single that put them on the indie music star map. The highlight of the evening for me was watching guitarist Sam Cooper. He had a few technical difficulties early in the set and for a few songs it looked like we were going to miss out on his bright, flowy riffs.
What a shame that would have been. Not just because without him Mount Joy is the musical equivalent of a burger without fries, good on it’s own and satisfying in a pinch, but still not a complete meal. Cooper also has a commanding stage presence. Just as Matt Quinn puts all he’s got into his raspy vocals, Cooper puts a healthy dose of emotion into every strum. And it shows. Literally.
So I stood in the middle of this celebratory crowd and fought with the infamously un-photographer friendly lights to get a few decent images. I lost myself somewhere in the collective melancholy of the performance. It was meaningful and connective and sometimes jubilant and often a little rebellious.
Like all shows I cover, it was just what I needed. It pushed me creatively and I found myself thinking about my future in this industry and where I want it to take me. All the avenues I’ve wanted to explore from the beginning and haven’t gotten around to yet.
By the end of the evening I was left sorting through images of musicians soaked in magenta and blue lights. I ended up with my first black and white gallery, something I’ve always shied away from in the past. In all honesty, it wasn’t what I was hoping for, but black and white images force you to focus on composition and exposure.
All in all it was a great night, I’m glad to have two new bands to add to my playlist.