Mates of State and The Black Kids @ The Henry Fonda Theater, 4/23/09
It was really comforting last Wednesday to wander out of debris strewn Hollywood Blvd, which had become an odd wasteland after tornado Free-Depeche-Mode-Concert hit, and into the Henry Fonda Theater. Especially since it was Mates of State that I had come to see. Their music is nothing if not comforting. I mean take one part true love and one part sunshine pop and you have Mates of State. The husband and wife duo, Jason Hammel and Kori Gardner, faced each other through out the whole set. Him, on his drum set, and her, on her keyboards, sang in harmony, while gazing lovingly at each other. It's like the audience wasn't even there. If it had been a Disney cartoon, tiny bluebirds, chubby chipmunks, and fawns with giant eyes would have appeared on stage and surrounded them.
It turns out that despite all of this warmth, a band can't really survive on a drummer and a keyboardist alone. You need depth; you need bass; you need a fullness that these instruments alone cannot provide. To fill this void the guys from Judgement Day, who had opened the show, returned to help out with cello and violin in hand. The difference was huge. When Mates of State were playing alone it was like listening to your headphones when one earphone breaks and you can only hear half of the song. With Judgement Day, the fullness of the sound was restored to it's former glory. Especially with the violin solo, which became the third voice in each song that it was featured in. Hammel and Gardner's harmonies went from the mundane to the essential with that violin as the solo high note. Mates of State's mistake was to have Judgement Day come on and off stage, which felt like your headphones breaking and being repaired over and over again.