Mae/Kiska/Square Peg Round Hole – Electric Factory – Philadelphia, PA – 1/2/15

For some a New Year means a new you.  We look back on our previous year or years and find a way to better ourselves in the coming year.  Up to this point, I’ve only had one bad year in my life, and I never go into a New Year thinking it’s going to be a bad year.  Quite the opposite, I always go in with highest of hopes.  However, if last Friday was any inclination of what 2015 has in store, then I think I am going to have much higher hopes that 2015 is going to be a great year.

Mae 0

The first show of 2015 was by far the best way to start this year.  Mae performing The Everglow front to back.  The guys will be bringing this experience to select cities this month, and promise more later.  Unlike other tours, it seemed like Mae was having bands from the area the tour was in open first than a package deal.  I would guess this is the workings of Dave Elkins of Mae and Schematic.  Since Mae stopped performing he started building music communities with the work of his band and studio Schematic.  The two Philadelphia bands that opened the night I wasn’t familiar with, but they were by far better than other local bands I’ve seen let alone other national bands.  The first band was Square Peg Round Hole, and no they weren’t a ska band.  Instead this trio is very unique, all instrumental and percussion driven with classical, jazz, and electronic elements sprinkled in.  Their music is something you would have playing when wanting to unwind from the day.   I’m not sure where this trio will fit in the “scene”, but I think they will pave their own path and become successful in their own right.  I wouldn’t be surprised if they ended up composing scores for movies.  If you happen to hear that they are performing in your area take the time to watch their performance, you’ll definitely be impressed.

Following Square Peg Round Hole was a new band called Kiska.  This band is that new that they announced that this was their third show.  Not a bad break for a third show.  However, Kiska performed flawlessly like this was their hundredth show.  I was floored by the energy and musicianship this band portrayed.  For some reason I kept thinking The Juliana Theory while watching them perform.  Being a little taken back by how good they sounded I did some research and little did I know Kiska was originally called Desoto Jones, another band out of the Philadelphia area.  Desoto Jones has been around for quite some time, so much so that after discovering this I went through a time warp and started listening to other bands from my youth.  Such as The June Spirit, The Goodwill, The Stryder, Hidden In Plain View, and the list goes on.  Even though most of those bands aren’t around anymore, it is good to see some members doing something in the music scene.  Kiska is a good example of what those bands might have become if they stayed, an excellent rock band.

Closing the night was Mae, a band that I’ve kept near and dear to my heart.  I’ve been following Mae since 2003.  It was the first time I saw them actually in Allentown, PA at Crocodile Rock, where I saw all my shows, and I believe the bill was Mae, The Starting Line, Days Away, and Hidden In Plain View.  I could be wrong, but I think that sounds right.  Mae hadn’t even put out Destination: Beautiful yet.  I was able to get a 4 song demo and a sticker for $3 though.  The second time I saw them was in Sciota, PA during a snow storm and I believe the lineup was Days Away, Mae, and Rx Bandits.  First Sciota is in nowhere land and second there was a snow storm.  There had to be 50 people tops and Days Away didn’t make it because they got stuck in the storm which is what Rob of Mae told me.  My parents must’ve hated me when I told them I had to go to this show.  I would then see Mae a bunch of other times, at the TLA, again in Allentown, Cabrini College, Chameleon Club in Lancaster, etc.  I was a big fan, compared to all the other “pop-punk” bands I listened to, they stuck out the most because they didn’t just play fast power chord music.  I love all their albums, even Singularity.  I also think the last three e.p.’s were their best work.  Even though The Everglow came out while I was in high school, it wasn’t until college that I realized how amazing it was.  I met a girl, who I dated, who was a music therapy major.  She saw things differently than anyone I knew and know.  Like me, she loved Mae, but introduced me to breaking down their music and lyrics.  If you know what Mae stands for, their music makes perfect sense.  It was an eye opener and this album became one of favorites for many reasons, but I won’t bore with too much details.  However, once Mae decided to break up, ironically the girl and I did too.

When Mae took the stage, I was very excited to see the lights be used on stage.  Sticking with the meaning of Mae, they really want fans to experience their live shows.  However, unlike other 10 year anniversary tours of albums, Mae didn’t start with The Everglow.  They actually opened with “I Just Needed You To Know”, “Embers and Envelopes”, and “Reflections”.  I think this was Mae’s way of getting everyone ready to experience The Everglow.  As neat as this was, for a photographer, it didn’t help with photos because they kept the lights off.  I had to crank up the ISO to get good shots and even then some spots were too dark to shoot.  If you don’t know, photographers only get the first three songs and the first three didn’t really have light.  Other photographers be warned, it can get tough.  Once those songs were over Mae went through The Everglow flawlessly with the lights on.  “We’re So Far Away” had more of a rock vibe to it, and other songs had different guitar feedback in them.  In the middle of their set, Mae did mention that they are grateful for their fans and that some things are happening.  Could this mean a new album, tour, who knows, but I wouldn’t mind seeing Mae a couple times a year.  After The Everglow set, Mae came back on to perform “Just Let Go”, “Summertime”, and “A Melody, The Memory.”  I was pretty happy with the 6 additional songs they played because three of them are my personal favorites.  Once the show ended, I thought I saw the girl that helped me love this band.  It wasn’t her, but who knows, stranger things have happened.  Who would’ve thought we’d see Mae perform again and who would’ve thought I’d get to photograph them.  Here’s to hoping that 2015 will be filled with other surprises.

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