By Deanna Tayag
Imagine this: a pixie-like, socially-educated and incredibly-talented young woman at the forefront, bathed in red light, two guitarists with cotton candy-colored hair flanking her and a percussionist at the upper back of the stage haloed in smoke. In the middle of this vibrancy, two trumpet and saxophone players are running around underneath a raised house-prop, with Christmas-esque lights illuminating the words “MISTERWIVES.”
On Oct. 17, Santa Ana’s Observatory venue hosted the New York-based indie-pop group MisterWives. Having debuted their first studio album, “Our Own House,” in February of this year, the band has taken to the road on their fall excursion, The Scrapbook Tour, with opening acts CRUISR and WATERS.
The dimly-lit venue, faintly smelling of alcohol and weed, was filled with people ranging from their tweens to their thirties, screaming angrily along with opening act CRUISR’s “Throw Shade” and dancing enthusiastically to WATERS’s tune “Mom and Dads.” Both songs are ballads to our lost generation today, acknowledgments of being immersed within our both technologically-advanced and severely-impoverished society, starved for real human connections.
Despite the long 30-minute-to-an-hour waits that ensued between all three acts, the beauty of the music venue was that its intimate nature allowed the audience to connect with and talk to one another. The lack of a stable signal eliminated the possibility of social media; instead, we had to make memories in real time.
Then, the stage went dark, and strands of “Pure Imagination” made their way throughout the room. The slowed and stripped-down version of the song added to the mounting suspense and created a creepy aura that contradicted with the American indie pop vibes of MisterWives.
And, indeed, the entire set that followed soon after was too surreal: a mixture of lights, cartwheels and synchronized male dancing, all which left one to wonder whether or not the evening really was a figment of their imagination.
One of the more memorable songs of the evening was the band’s rendition of “Coffins”: a slow, lyrical metaphor comparing the death of relationships and/or the liveliness of people to “carrying coffins.” As a treat to the sold-out venue, the band brought out their friend Andrea, a violinist, to play along with them.. The soulful, somber wails of the violin evoked a seemingly cathartic release from the audience; the instrument shed the tears that we were unable to.
However, the moment was made all the more special when the song blurred into the chorus of Stevie Nicks’s original song, “Landslide,” adding another layer of depth and meaning to “Coffins,” as singer Mandy Lee crooned, “and I’ve been / afraid of / changing…” The lights dimmed to a warm navy blue as the audience put their arms up, closed their eyes and relished in the familiarity of the words, bringing them back to a better place and time.
And, finally, towards the end of their set, they played “Reflections,” the hit single that launched their careers into relative fame, playing across mainstream radio stations and into the earbuds of brokenhearted, independent fighters. The song, dedicated to the determination needed to rebuild one’s self after being defined by another individual for so long, alludes to mirrors — “shattering / everything / that has reflections / of you” — and has a groovy, upbeat vibe that gives those listening to it the energy needed to want to pick up those pieces of metaphoric glass and make a name for themselves once again. The song is one of healing, and as the lights blinked red and gold, and as Jesse Blum blared the trumpet, I pulled on my best friend Allison’s arm, lifting her up and down, I felt Lee’s earlier reminder in the atmosphere:
“You are not alone. And that is the beauty of music: it connects each and every single one of us to each other.”
That entire installment of MisterWive’s Scrapbook Tour was a moment defined by fragments of memories: that sense of unity and coming together that has been sorely lacked, the feeling of having the broken pieces of those around me come together and the sounds of joined laughter in time with the steady bass drum.
I walked out of it feeling as if something that had been long gone had now returned.