I had been eyeing this show on the Highline calendar for a while but held off on buying a ticket because I wasn't sure how destroyed (or arrested) I'd be from the 2 Ha Ha the Moose shows in the days before, but let's back up a bit...
Who the fuck are Mercury Rev? Mercury Rev (from Buffalo, NY) are everyone's favorite band that you've never heard of. The indie musicians you listen to are probably loyal fans of Mercury Rev. Their name seems to appear alongside the Mountain Goats as top favorites. Could I have told you what they sounded like last week? No. But for years it was always "Mercury Rev THIS" and "Mercury Rev THAT" and "If this humus were a cookie and that cookie were life blah blah blah...", you get the idea. I knew eventually I was going to see these guys play. So when I read the Highline newsletter last week and saw "if you would like to win a free pair of tickets to the Mercury Rev show this sunday, email us" and I scored a pair, I knew it was meant to be*. It was going to be a long weekend and after 2 Ha Ha the Moose shows, things might** be messy- but at no point did I consider skipping this stars-alligning-with-planets event. I was FINALLY going to see Mercury Rev. Hot damn!
Damn, seriously like none of you locals have ever fucking heard of them? Big fat whatever dudes, cuz Steve the Greek was on that like gyro sauce on a fucking gyro!
Hell, he even knew who the opening band were (Dean & Britta), unfortunately we only saw about a minute of them cuz we walked in after throwing back a pregame at the Hog Pit. I stood next to the lead singer of Mercury Rev (Jonathan Donahue***) at the bar and admired his plaid pants but didn't know who he was until he got onstage (with a bottle of wine) and flailed the night away. It's almost the same way I met the Old TP. Almost. Anyways, I didn't know what to expect, I had thought maybe Wilco-ish, but then Hern told me Flaming Lips (a band Donahue was previously in), which actually got me really nervous due to a "bad time" I had at moe.down a few years ago. Aside from the heart palpitations and cold sweats it gives me, for some reason the Flaming Lips music also sounds kind of artificially manufactured: musical aspartame. I didn't need any of that again.
Immediately I could see the comparisons to the Flaming Lips in Donahue's flamboyant stage presence, the visuals, and some of the driving dramatic/atmospheric sounds. Fortunately for me, there were no bleeding nun puppets through a fish eye lens while Wayne shoots a confetti gun over the audience and a stage full of people dancing in giant foam bunny costumes on some sort of horrible Willy Wonka boat-ride. So that was good. Very good. Instead of sensory overload it was sensory satisfaction and I was able to enjoy it all. Thanks, Mercury Rev!
But for realz, the band was great! Some of the songs were slower and moodier than others, but mostly it felt masterfully orchestrated and brilliantly pulled off. The stage show was energetic and Donahue was constantly running around to the various band members and zapping them with power while they tore through the songs. Occasionally they would sound like the Doors but the next moment they were covering the Talking Heads. They connected most of their songs in a way that specifically reminded me of moe.'s Wormwood album, very beautifully done.
I will definitely see Mercury Rev again and will most likely be more pro-active about it in the future. Now I know why so many respected musicians are fans of these guys. It was a great fucking time. Another successful night at the beautiful Highline Ballroom. The perfect show for a cold Sunday night after 2 nights of sheer madness****: mellow enough to take the edge off. Last Sunday night at least, Mercury Rev were the Vicodin of live music. Just what I needed. 8.5-9 HUZZAHS! Solid.
Gallery for Hi-Res DL's and SLIDESHOW!
NOT MY FOOTAGE:
Snowflake in a Hot World
* and that ticket sales were probably bad so they needed to fill-house.
** Odds were yes, they would almost certainly be messy.
*** I just looked that up.
**** 3 if you count the New World Holiday Party.