Concert Review: Eskimeaux at Mahall’s Main Stage
Written by Miles Purdy on April 30, 2017
By: Miles Purdy and Alice Leach
Concert Review: Eskimeaux, The Village Bicycle, and Sonder Bombs at Mahall’s
April 23rd, 2017
Last Sunday night, Alice and Miles headed over to Cleveland to check out Eskimeaux at Mahall’s Main Stage. To their surprise, the show started right when it said it did on the ticket; 7:30 on the dot (something they weren’t exactly prepared for.)
The show began with the Sonder Bombs – a small local group consisting of singer/Uke player Willow Hawks, guitarist Jimmy Wilkins, bassist Jake Stephens, and drummer Eric Heald. The group’s fast-paced, pointed tunes and pleasant uke chords packed a punch while managing to still remain an interesting mix of sweet and serious. The lead singer showed her savvy as a vocalist by hitting notes effortlessly, and leading them all through the songs easily. Overall it was an opener I wasn’t expecting, and can safely say that I was pleasantly surprised by. About halfway through the set, lead guitarist snuck in a joke- asking the crowd what Mario’s overalls were made out of (denim-denim-denim)- a punchline that left the audience groaning but amused. Naturally, I grabbed one of the many hand-made Sonder Bombs pins the band offered to the crowd.
Next up was The Village Bicycle, another local Cleveland band that combines feminist rock with a whole lot of space sounds and a whole lot of character. I won’t lie, I was a stranger to The Village Bicycle (as I am with most local bands that open a show) until I found out they were opening for Eskimeaux, but after giving their album “Fits and Starts” on Spotify, I was hooked. During their set they had great energy, they worked well together and they all seemed genuinely stoked to be there. After an intense closing with “Not So Pretty”, we were lucky enough to grab an interview with the band’s lead singer Liz Kelly and the backup vocalist and keyboarder Karah Vance after their set.
I was wrapping up the interview when we heard Eskimeaux to taking the stage. As I returned to my little nook, I took a gander around and saw the crowd had filled in some, though it wasn’t packed by any means. Now, I’ll be frank here; I wasn’t exactly enthusiastic about seeing Eskimeaux beforehand. While I had enjoyed the single’s I’d listened to beforehand, there were obvious concerns that the calmer, easy-listening sound on recordings meant that a live performance was going to be on the dull and listless side. Thankfully, this wasn’t the case. Eskimeaux surprised, bringing a bit more pep into their laidback tunes. Granted, it wasn’t anywhere near full-mosh levels, but some hipster darlings danced to the whimsical beat. Songs like “Alone at the Party” and their hit track “Broken Necks” kept the energy up enough to keep heads bobbing. One of the funnier moments came when Gabriella Smith, leader of the project, stopped the show to announce they had a question. A couple tracks later, and she asked one of the most contentious, most divisive questions in the local scene; how do you pronounce Mahall’s? The answer from the crowd was a resounding “MAY-halls!”
The more you know, kids.
As time went on, the crowd seemed to dig what the band had going. A tall, wild-haired man stepped out in front of us, claiming it as his personal Dance Zone. This was when Gabriella again stopped the show to announce they were rebranding under the name “Ó”, and the merch was now officially a collectors item. Unlike when other bands try to do this at shows, the bit actually got the crowd laughing. When one of the crowd shouted, asking why the name change, she deflected the question and the band went back to the set for the rest of the night.