On Monday evening I saw Mates of State live for what I think is the fifth time if I’m counting correctly (math is hard). They had an early set at U Street Music Hall, which was a bit bizarre, but anything is better than the time that they had a 12:30am set time on a Wednesday at the 9:30 Club. I’ll take awkwardly early over awkwardly late any day.
Sean Barna opened. Considering he said he found out he was playing the show that day, I’m assuming he’s local. He was enjoyable. I was a bit worried after the lackluster a capella number he opened with, but once he started on the guitar it was a lot of fun. He was a very passionate performer which made him easy to like. All but one of his songs were about sex. The other was about “going West.” He had a short set – 25 minutes tops.
Kori and Jason (sans backing band from the Mountaintops tour, thankfully) took the stage at 8:15pm and delivered about an hour and fifteen minute set starting with “Think Long” and ending with a cover of “True Love Will Find You In the End.” The only bummer of the show was that they didn’t play my favorite “Fraud in the 80s.” Otherwise it was about as perfect a set as you could imagine. The set list covered a wide range of their work (if anything tilting toward their earlier albums) including “You Are Free” “Ha Ha” “Now” “Palomino” “Open Book” “My Only Offer” and “So Many Ways.” They are currently working on a new album and one new song made the cut for the show and like most Mates’ songs was instantly likeable.
They had a different live arrangement of “Like U Crazy” compared to past performances I’ve seen. They kept a steady, drawn out “I…” in “I like you crazy” instead of the staggered “I I I I like you crazy.” Otherwise it was vintage Kori and Jason magic. They are really a joy to watch live – both in their performances and in their banter. They just seem like such happy, delightful people.
While they didn’t play my favorite song, I’ll give them a pass this time because they ended their encore with a fabulous and unexpected cover of Miley Cyrus’ “Why Can’t Stop” introduced with the request from Kori: “Please don’t judge us.”
I can’t wait to see them tour again when the new album comes out. They are one of a small handful of bands that I will see every time they come through town. It never gets old.