A friend of a friend hooked me up with a free ticket to the show, and asked me to write this review in return. I don't think he knew that I'm probably the last person to ask.
I grew up in the southwestern Chicago suburbs, and led a pretty sheltered music life until I got to college (U of I). While everyone else had known about Braid and seen them live, all I knew was a couple songs that I had downloaded one night. I thought they were something worth checking out, but by that time they weren't around anymore...
So one day either a friend put Hey Mercedes on in their car or I gave the CD a listen at Record Service in Champaign. Can't remember how it happened, but anyway, I became introduced to the band in their own accord- not that hey this band used to Braid and now listen to them.
A lot of the reviews I read on Hey Mercedes bash them for not being Braid. Why do you think they changed their name? They're not Braid anymore, so why keep comparing them. If you liked Braid, and don't like Hey Mercedes, then stop going to the shows.
Tuesday night's show was really good. I missed the first band, and the others didn't grab my attention at all. Hey Mercedes started up and it was awesome. They played a good show.
I've heard complaints that the band has a boring stage presence, but I don't know what they're talking about. Maybe when they first started out, but I wouldn't know. This was my second time seeing them- the first being at the Highdive in Champaign a few months ago. Anyway, the band was up there looking like they were having a lot of fun. The crowd was smiling and singing along. It seemed like everyone was having a good time.
I'm thinking the Highdive show was a little better because the people who were there wanted to be there. They weren't just looking for something to do on a Tuesday night (not that that is a bad reason to go to a show, I have done it plenty of times before hoping to be impressed by a band I don't know or like that well). It adds a different environment to the show.
As to how the band was actually playing, they were very energetic. They didn't take breaks between songs, they just kept it going. They mixed the new songs with the old fairly well, so they didn't lose attention too easily. They messed around with a couple songs, most notably "Quit" I believe (although I'm probably wrong) where they had it down to the drums and bass for a little while, and Bob adding a little icing. It was sounding pretty cool, and they almost pulled it off, but just barely didn't.
I had a good time at the show, and by the faces of the people around me, I could tell I wasn't the only one. I would definitely recommend going to one of their shows, but don't go if you're still mourning Braid.