Mates of State Double Header at the Tractor

Mates of State at Tractor Tavern

Mates of State at Tractor Tavern

Mates of State (MOS) started off their Ballard-based double header with a bang. It may not have been packed to the rafters, but for a Thursday night and the first of two shows at the same venue… there were plenty of fans to be found shimmying the night away to the fun, upbeat tunes.

The opener for MOS’ duo of shows is Stepkids, a group from their own home state of Connecticut. Apparently Mates were responsible for their first real show down in New York too. I saw Stepkids last year at MusicFestNW and it took a little time to readjust. They’ve got a groovy seventies sound (I can’t believe I just used that line, but it’s really accurate) with slow jams flowing from beginning to end. The higher-range vocals from this trio of dudes is reminiscent of The Beegees or The Monkeys or for a more modern reference, the Fruit Bats (though FB are on the more country-folk side of the seventies). While I’m not typically into jam-style bands or even the seventies flowy feel, these guys put on a good show. I found my mind wandering and letting the music swirl around me while I thought about other things. That may not speak well for the music itself, not being able to hold my attention and all, but sometimes that’s exactly what you need… to get your mind off what’s going on around you.

The psychedelic lighting that seems to be a staple of a Stepkids show definitely throws your mind that seventies vibe. With what looks to be a handmade lighting show overtaking your visual sense from start to the finish of the set, the all-white suits they adorn cause the lighting to swallow them whole. From some of the shots below it’s pretty obvious that faces and appendages are seen only in glimpses while the light swirls around them; from the brightly colored to dark sky tones it’s sort of an adventure all in itself.

Mates of State were the pinnacle of last night’s show though, which is basically like saying the sky is blue… but you get where I’m headed. They’re so sweet and a little bit goofy but that’s all just frosting on a cake of solid music. I’m not super familiar with all their songs but that doesn’t mean I wasn’t bopping along from the moment they started playing till the last bass drum thud. The trumpet/piano player was right there with us dancing and singing in the background… so much fun. The adorable stage setup complete with hanging cloud lights, a wall of flowers and piano stand tree made for an atmosphere of lighthearted and lively entertainment.

A friend compared Matt and Kim (M&K) with Mates and he mentioned that MOS was the “original” one boy, one girl drum set and piano duo. He went on to say that M&K were just a copy of what had already been done. I’ll have to disagree with this assessment. While I can understand the seeming similarities, they are also worlds apart. While Matt and Kim are incredibly energetic running from one end of the stage to the other, throwing balloons into the crowd, jumping and going nutso, Mates of State are more subdued, both in outward persona and in the music. That may sound like I am more into Matt and Kim; au contraire mon frere, I can appreciate great music with seemingly simple beats (that require complicated drumming), great voices and big smiles even more than a big showy performance. That’s not to say that Matt and Kim don’t get my booty shakin’, cause do they ever! MOS outdid themselves this time though. Boy we’re sure glad they’re back in town after a three-year absence from the emerald city. Let’s try not to make it so long next time eh guys? We missed you.

If you weren’t able to catch their first show last night, don’t fret they’ve got a second show tonight at the same place and same time with the same opener. If you did catch them last night, I wouldn’t blame you if you found your way to the Tractor for an encore. I was tempted to do it myself!

Friday June 29th
Tractor Tavern
Mates of State with Stepkids
Doors 8pm :: Show 9pm-ish
Tix $18, 21+

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