Handsome Ghost, a self-proclaimed “indie-prom” band, leaves the scene thanking the roaring crowd and welcoming the next opener. After a quick set change, the longhaired, tree-house-dwelling, emerging synth-pop artist BORNS takes the stage. The Feb. 26 show at Union Transfer was a special one, as it was the first show before a long tour. Sure, majority of the audience came to the show to see MisterWives play songs from their recently released LP titled “Our Own House,” but it wouldn’t take long for the crowd to be captivated by Borns’ creative and cozy crooning.
Borns, a Michigan native who spent a few years writing music in a tree house, stands before the crowd. Opening the first show of the tour for a band like MisterWives is no easy task. Having only a four-song EP to his name, it was difficult to gauge whether Borns would whet the crowd’s musical appetite. A female vocalist and pianist, a drummer, a guitarist and a bassist spaced themselves around Borns on the stage. Borns was holding a guitar of his own and the crowd was clearly eager to see what would happen.
With a fiery opening sequence, Borns opened his set with “Seeing Stars,” a stunning song that instantly silenced the wild audience. The song opened with its synth-filled riff that repeats through the chorus as Borns sings, “Your love is such a dream come true. I know, I know, I know I need you.” Immediately after the first chorus, the energy throughout the crowd was palpable as concert-goers began bouncing up and down in time with the music. Borns glamorous voice paired well with his dazzling instrumentals, obviously impressing the fans who may not have ever heard of him before.
“Seeing Stars” faded out and “10,000 Emerald Pools” faded in. Though “10,000 Emerald Pools” is a bit less explosive than “Seeing Stars,” the crowd fell in love with Borns as he sang softly: “Time is standing still, you’re the treasure, dive down deeper, still all I need is you.” Upon the song’s conclusion, the crowd’s cheers were deafening. Borns then let the crowd know his next song was brand new, causing another cheer to erupt from the crowd.
Borns played three alluring new songs (not forgetting to squeeze in “Past Lives,” one of his previously released songs) to knockout his new fans. The Union Transfer audience was certainly in love. Through the new songs, the one that stood out the most was “American Money.” This song proved Borns’ musical versatility, as the synth-pop artist played a song that sounded to be the beginning of a new era in rock and roll. Should Borns ever release this song, there is no doubt that it will become a hit.
Anyone who had heard Borns’ music before could guess what he would end his night on, “Electric Love.” Borns announced his last song and the six-note guitar riff pierced the audience’s excitement. The thrilling “Electric Love” summarized Borns unique and explosive style, as he closed his set and welcomes MisterWives.
What was most surprising about MisterWives was their on-stage energy. Kicking off the show with, “Our Own House,” the band had clearly been waiting for their first show of the tour. Mandy Lee, the band’s stunning front-woman, has an incredible on-stage presence. Personally, her voice reminds me a lot of Hayley Williams of Paramore. During just the first song, Lee was having the time of her life with her enthusiastic fans. The venue nearly erupted when the chorus started. Not a single person in the crowd was silent; everyone was screaming: “We built our own house, own house with our hands over our hearts.” Since it was the band’s first show of the tour, Lee was very emotional, even asking an audience member to pinch her.
The show continued with “No Need for Dreaming,” a song that slightly slowed down the tempo of the concert. The song opened almost like a ballad, and exploded in the chorus when Lee cheered: “I will follow you ‘til there’s no beat left within me.” The slow pace continued with “Box Around the Sun,” a song that gets stuck in a listener’s head with its way too catchy chorus: “Carry me on and on and on, on and on and on, on and on and on, on and on and on and on and on and on and on.” Repetition is the key to catchy music, and MisterWives really nailed it with this one.
After playing “Oceans” and “Coffins,” the most memorable part of the show came along. Starting with Lee’s striking voice singing the brass part to “Twisted Tongue,” while her brass players pantomimed her. The piece was a musical game of Simon Says, with Lee showing off her absurd vocal range. The audience was still frozen in awe as the song actually began. The band was visibly full of energy nearly half way through the show. The song had a lot of audience participation, as Lee sang the lyrics: “You just managed to mask what’s now clear as glass, and that’s just you are an a–hole” with the crowd shouting along!
“Best I Can Do,” another brass filled song, made its way into the set list. This song kicks off with a five-note explosion from the saxophone and trumpet. “Best I Can Do” was absolutely a fan favorite, as everyone danced along to the brass instruments. The entire five-piece band was jamming out; it was an impressive sight to be seen.
With all of the energy stuffing Union Transfer, MisterWives had to tone it down a notch. “Vagabond” and “Hurricane,” two popular songs, not as jam-packed with energy, let the crowd settle down a bit before the band’s climatic finish.
Once the two songs concluded, “Not Your Way,” a song distinctly written by a feminist, got the crowd excited. While the actual music is catchy, I find the lyrics almost cringe-worthy, with lines like: “Lower and lower our standards go as your money grows,” and “This is my own life, own life, not growing up to be a trophy wife.” Personally, I’m a big fan of the musical side of this song, but I found the lyrics unsettling.
Fortunately, MisterWives saved their set by playing their best known song, “Reflections.” “Reflections” is a superb song that peaked at 84 on Billboards top 200, an incredible feat for an abstruse band like MisterWives. The song’s distinct sound and powerful vocals overwhelmed the crowd. With everyone doing their best to sing along. This song was the peak of the show.
MisterWives, for some odd reason, chose to end the show with a slow song, “Queens.” After just playing a passionate song, “Queens” didn’t seem like a logical closing song. The band thanked their crowd, as Lee could be seen tearing up from the overwhelming response her audience gave her.
What’s a show nowadays without an encore? After the band bowed and celebrated on stage with each other, the crowd’s cries for encore filled the room with anticipation. What happened next was an utter shock. Obviously, MisterWives came out for an encore, but Lee played the drums while the band started to play “Uptown Funk” by Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars. The cover was spectacular, but it ended all too soon as Lee shouted, “How about we play one of our own songs?” just after the first chorus.
“Imagination Infatuation” is probably my favorite song on the album “Our Own House.” Hearing it live during the encore was a huge relief — the band couldn’t neglect to play one of their catchiest songs, right? The encore was in all honestly the best part of the show; hearing the band’s best song paired with a cover of a contemporary pop hit was truly awesome. The band played through the crowd’s last burst of excitement as they sing their final lyrics of the night: “Lovin’s is easy to keep when you’re the reason that I fall asleep: to dream of you.” The last notes rang out and cheers continued for several minutes, through the lobby until security escorted everyone out.
All in all, the show was one of the best I have been to in a while. Borns unique style paired well as an opener for a pop-based band like MisterWives. While Borns has little to no stage presence, MisterWives could not have had more. The two bands put on a perfect show for lovers of the indie/alternative genre. After the show, one thing was for certain, and it’s that MisterWives music was playing in everyone’s head “On and on and on, on and on and on, on and on and on…”