On October 14, 2017, I had the pleasure of returning to the Rave Eagles Club in Milwaukee. And although I had been to the Rave countless times over the course of my teenage years, this time was unique and exciting. MisterWives was performing, accompanied by Vinyl Theatre and Smallpools—an eerily similar lineup to one of my favorite shows of all time.
In 2014, I had waited outside of the venue for the Quiet is Violent tour for Twenty One Pilots, where they toured with MisterWives and Vinyl Theatre and ever since I had been hooked. I was immediately drawn to both bands energy and message: overcoming the obstacles and dancing along to the highs.
I was not only excited to see some amazing performers and spend the night carelessly singing along to incredible music. I was excited to see how these bands and members, who I felt I had known for so long, had grown and matured in the three years since seeing them. Of course, I had followed them on social media—downloading their albums as soon as they were released and liking too many of their posts on Facebook—but being packed into a venue and feeling the vibrations of live music is something magnificently extraordinary that you simply cannot experience anywhere else. I could barely stay sitting in anticipation and thrill as I waited for the concert to begin. I knew this was an amazing concert before it had even begun.
The first to perform, Vinyl Theatre had the always difficult task of setting the tone for the rest of the night. A crowd’s energy had to be manifested—all the excitement and anticipation in the crowd just waiting to be harnessed. And without wasting a minute, Vinyl Theatre took the stage with so much energy and power; jolting the crowd, many who didn’t initially recognize their music, to begin dancing and singing along.
At first, the band used some of their newer songs from Origami to introduce their aesthetic. The raw passion and hype of their music was quickly mirrored by the crowd. Vinyl Theatre’s main vocalist, Keegan Calmes, bounced and danced around the stage; inviting the audience to do the same.
The set came to a climax when the band played their breakout single “Breaking Up My Bones”, a song with a powerful chorus and catchy lyrics. As a long-time fan, I was ecstatic to hear not only some of my favorite throwbacks but how Vinyl Theatre has grown and matured over time and practice. Their album, Electrogram, which was new when they toured back in 2014, pulled the audience in with its high energy, punk rock feel.
Vinyl Theatre ended their set with their new single, “Me Myself and I”, released only six days prior. The single has Twenty One Pilots-esq production and instantly became one of my favorites and, I believe, one of the audience’s as well.
Next to take the stage was Smallpools, a band I wasn’t particularly familiar with. However, just as Vinyl Theatre had some with those who were unfamiliar, Smallpools soon had me and the rest of the audience singing along. As I looked around, I noticed most of the crowd around me knew every word and beat—an obviously devoted fan base.
Their set contained many songs that I recognized even without realizing at first: a mashup of “Mother” and Radiohead’s “Creep”, “Karaoke”, “Passenger Side”. The indie-pop vibe of these singles struck the crowd and got them jumping along. Smallpools brought an energy to the stage that transcended any prior knowledge of their music. It was fun, enjoyable, and left an impression on audience members like me—even prompting me to download their album Lovetap and newest EP THE SCIENCE OF LETTING GO.
Their set ended with their debut single, “Dreaming”: an instant classic. Smallpools and Vinyl Theatre had done what every main act desires from an opener—they gave MisterWives a hard act to follow because they knew, just as the crowd did, that they would still blow our minds.
MisterWives’ set was extraordinary. Their theme of vibrant color and expression was flipped upside down in their set design—the familiar “spirit animal” geometric figures were all white and elegantly hung from various positions on stage. They connected the dots of MisterWives unique fashion sense and sound with the beauty and elegance of their message. The band members resembled the figures in the background, white and black with geometric flares of shape and whim. Lead singer, Mandy Lee, was dressed in a stunning black uniform, with head to toe cutouts of white triangles and shapes. She had a pop of color on her eyes, tying together the vibrancy of the instruments to the sheerness of the set/costume design.
Opening with “Machine”, a powerhouse song about being individual and unique set the tone for the night. The crowd was insane; practically breathing alongside Mandy as she belted the chorus. With the perfect balance of energy and poise, she and the other band members danced about the stage. You could feel the passion in the music and that is what every concertgoer desires.
With a mix of songs from their latest album Connect the Dots and song from Our Own House, MisterWives put on a show that was not only musically elite and magnificent but gave the audience something to dream for, fight for. Their lyrics are amazing, empowering the audience to love themselves more and more each day as they face struggle and self-doubt. Mandy Lee kept with this theme, delivering countless speeches about the importance of confidence and creativity between songs. This message is one aspect of why fans, such as myself, love MisterWives to an infinite extent.
The band paid tribute to Twenty One Pilots with a cover of their popular song “Ride”. They added their own twist to the song, slowing it down and adding Mandy’s distinct vocal tone to it. As a lifetime fan of Twenty One Pilots, I thoroughly enjoyed the cover and its take on Tyler and Josh’s unique sound. Having seen MisterWives and Vinyl Theatre at the Rave when they toured with Twenty One Pilots for their Quiet is Violent Tour in 2014, it brought back so many memories and emotions seeing them pay tribute with the adaptation.
Finishing off with the song “Imagination Infatuation”, MisterWives left the audience exuberant, empowered, and aching for an encore. The encore was the title track from their debut album, “Our Own House”. The track perfectly embodied the band’s message and vibe; giving the audience one last taste of the fluidity and power that is MisterWives.
Having been to a countless number of concerts, I can say with confidence that this concert rocked the whole way through. I left the Rave feeling stronger, beaming harder, and singing along to every song of the night.
MisterWives has since released a new single, “Never Give Up On Me”: continuing to provide completely realized jams that will keep us dancing for years to come.
Photo Credit: The Rave