Last Week Live: Mates of State

Last Wednesday, upon arriving to the Ottobar and expecting music, one was greeted with a few out of the ordinary performances. The first was that of sword swallower Dai Andrew. When we walked into the intimate performance space of the club, Andrew was bent sideways as he swallowed a curved sword. It was hard to watch, but even harder to look away.

Comedian Nick Thune, who has had minor roles in Knocked Up and Unaccompanied Minors, then gave a small stand-up performance. His jokes, most often backed by the easy strums of his guitar, were well-received and poked fun at everything from Craig’s List Missed Connections to Starbuck’s gift cards.

The third opening act, Free Energy, did exactly what they were expected to do: pump up the crowd. Where Andrew had sufficiently wowed the crowd, and Thune had put smiles on our faces, Free Energy got everyone moving before Mates of State took stage.

By the time Mates of Stage had assembled by their instruments, it was already past eleven. In their hour on stage, though, Mates was able to play old favorites and new covers, much to the crowd’s delight. Their most recent LP, Crushes, features 10 cover songs of bands that range from The Mars Volta to Fleetwood Mac to Tom Waits. Each cover, while maintaining the sounds of the original, infuses the quirky and harmonious sounds of the Mates of State.

Mates of State, comprised of husband and wife pair Jason Hammel and Kori Gardner along with a back-up band, played “Sleep the Clock Around” by Belle and Sebastian and the energetic “Laura” by Girls. They also chose select songs such as “Whiner’s Bio” from their arguably best album, Team Boo. Some of the best performances of the night were their cover of “True Love Will Find You In the End” and their original song, “Ha Ha.”

The pair was endearing as they transitioned from each song, casting glances in each other’s direction every few beats. They played their sweet songs with an upbeat attitude and had the crowd bouncing on their feet to the melodic poppy sounds of their band. By the final songs of the encore, Thane and Free Energy had made their way on stage for a group number that was a testament to the toe-tapping happiness of Mates of State’s music.

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