Mae in concert – 8/20/06 – the Intersection, Grand Rapids, MI
Mae’s second album, the Everglow, was great. It was presented as a concept album with a spoken intro and pictures supposedly showing the journey of the main character. I never spent enough serious time with the album to determine if there really was a concept or not. It’s not obvious to me. But the first pair of songs, “We’re So Far Away” and “Someone Else’s Arms” are so strong that the rest of the album really only needed to grab me once or twice and I considered it a success. And that’s exactly what it does. Much of the album has a nice sound to it, in no small part because of vocalist Dave Elkins and the interesting and sometimes intricate arrangements. It’s a fine album so when they had their show coming to Grand Rapids I decided that I would go along with my son, Bryan to see them.
First of all I was, by a long shot, one of the oldest people in the crowd. Most of the crowd was within 5 years of 20. I’m not. So I felt a little old. Bryan’s friends who were there didn’t quite know what to make of him going with his dad but we have a long history of going to concerts together so I think Bryan was OK with it. Plus, I paid for his ticket so I’m guessing it was fine.
Openers Verdera did a nice job. I like vocalist Kristen May’s voice and attitude (she’s got the perfect rock-chick thing going) although live the band lacked a little nuance I think they might have a future. I like what I’ve heard from their album on myspace and itunes so I wish I had taken the opportunity to talk with Kristen when I said hi back at the merchandise table. You can listen to samples from their album at itunes here. Or visit their myspace site.
Next came the band, Brandtson. They just didn’t grab the crowd for some reason. They didn’t grab me either. Part of it was attitude. Just as much as I liked Vedera’s leader’s attitude, Brandtson’s attitude irked me right from the start. Their lead guitarist especially was of the Jack Black / School of Rock variety – like the beginning of the movie – and the whole band seemed to have a “look how cool we are” thing going. I was glad when their set was done.
So when Mae came on it only took 15 seconds to show that we were in for a much tighter and better band. Mae is in the process of writing their third album and the show featured songs from both their existing albums and a few new songs. It is clear that the crowd was familiar with the songs from the Everglow and that’s when the band connected best with the crowd. Elkin’s voice is both a strength and weakness for the band as he sometimes was off pitch. But the band is very tight and have a good sense of working the crowd and of playing together as a unit. They don’t really feature any one player although their guitar and keyboard players both seemed highly competent (as did the rhythm section – really a well rehearsed and tight band.). The band is more about a band sound than about solos so no one person (except the lead vocalist) shone. All in all it was a fine show. Mae has recently signed with Capital so their next album could be even bigger that The Everglow which was released on the small Tooth and Nail label. This could well launch them to bigger venues and more sales. If their third album is as strong as their last one they could well be the “next big thing” ® so I’m glad I got to see them when I did.
Mae’s MySpace page.
8 months ago