Thanks to a good friend who had a spare ticket, I was fortunate enough to spend last Friday evening at Webster Hall here in NYC with indie/art/prog/whatever you want to call them-rockers, Mew. Having no experience seeing the Danish band live, I was pretty excited to see what they had in store.
The evening opened with the Brooklyn-based band, Bear in Heaven. I try to stay open-minded when it comes to opening bands, especially when they are preceding highly known groups, but in all honesty, I was quite disappointed. Their heavily synthesized music became extremely monotonous, and I just couldn't get past the dull nasal singing of vocalist Jon Philpot. I'm sure they sound great on recording, especially when Philpot alters his voice with effects. However, as far as a live show goes...snoresville.
Thankfully, Mew was far from disappointing. In fact, I was completely blown away by them in several aspects. Fronted by the wide-eyed, boyish-faced Jonas Bjerre, the band brought together a mix of high-pitched vocals and epic heavy guitars (mostly playing songs from their latest albums, "No More Stories are Told Today, I'm Sorry they Washed Away" and "And the Glass Handed Kites"). Their transitions were seamless as the music wove between delicate elements of whisper-y vocals and music box chimes, to crushing bass and guitar-driven riffs surrounded by layers of harmonized singing. And that was just the audio.
Mew stunned me with their visuals, right down to the simple layout of band member position on stage. A huge screen backdrop displayed eerie animation, (created by Bjerre) which added to the feeling of being in another world. My favorite showcase of the animation complimenting the music came during "The Zookeeper's Boy". Images of giraffes and human-bodied tigers sang along to Jonas Bjerre's higher-than-high vocals. You can see an example of said song and animation from a Yahoo! Who's Next showcase below.
During the encore, Mew finished out the set with their song "Louise Louisa". By the song's end, Bjerre was the only one left on stage, his voice breaking in artistic passion as he repeated the lyrics: Stay with me/Don't want to be alone. Needless to say, I was a ball of mush. I found a clip of the animation from this song on Jonas Bjerre's website. Check it below.
To sum it up, prior to the show I considered myself someone who thought Mew was a really good band. Afterward, I've become somewhat obsessed (with a new blue-eyed crush to boot). If you get the chance to see them live, don't think twice! Go, go, go!