mewithoutYou / Foxing / Field Mouse - Live in Cambridge (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

mewithoutYou / Foxing / Field Mouse

Live in Cambridge (2015)

live show

mewithoutYou tapped a solid pair of openers for the second leg of this headlining tour in support of their recent, great album, Pale Horses, my favorite of theirs since 2006's Brother, Sister. Woozy alt-rock/indie pop act Field Mouse kicked it off with a strong half-hour or so of material likely all deriving from last year's Hold Still Life, including "Asteroid," the beautifully tense "Two Ships" and "Everyone But You." Often classified as a shoegaze band, they always struck me as something that doesn't quite conform fully to the style's parameters, favoring melody and clarity over hazier atmospheres. Outside of a studious description of the water singer/guitarist Rachel Browne was drinking and a compliment to the band H2O after a strange shout from someone in the audience, banter was standard fare. Either way, they were more than pleasant as a first act of the night, and despite going on 15 minutes earlier than advertised, the venue looked pretty full, and the crowd definitely seemed at least relatively into it.

Foxing came on next with their brand of orchestral, post-rock-heavy emo, which sounds better every time I hear it. Think of a better version of the World Is a Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid to Die. It helps that their new songs sound like their best yet, with darker, immersive atmospheres that retain a core of careful yearning. They smartly bookended the set with their best two previously released songs: "Rory" and "The Medic," both off last year's reissued The Albatross. While the crowd wasn't as crazy as when they opened in Boston for Modern Baseball earlier this year, it looked like from my vantage point at the back of the floor that there was a small, devoted following up front finger-pointing along with familiar favorites. With a lot of people on stage, violin, trumpet, saxophone and flute being played at various times, and frontman Conor Murphy practically thrashing his torso around at times, their setup runs the risk of being a silly mess, but somehow it all comes together in a tasteful way. They sounded great, and the new album (recently recorded) seems like it's shaping up to be even greater.

Set list (8:57-9:34):

new song
either "Ocelot" or new song
Bit by a Dead Bee Pt. II
new song?
The Medic

While mewithoutYou fill their songs with anthropomorphic creatures, complex thematic fables and lots of food references, they do seem like a pretty serious band with serious albums, and it's a vibe I like. But it was a nice change of pace when they used the "Jurassic Park" theme as their intro music. I couldn't help but laugh. The band then got right into things with "Pale Horse," the opener from the album they're currently supporting, and immediately followed with its lead single, the awesome "Red Cow." They barely took a breath from there, playing one song after another that spanned their catalog dating back to 2004's Catch for Us the Foxes (unlike the last few tours, nothing from 2002's [A→B] Life, at least for this date). Unlike the Foxes 10th anniversary tour, banter was very minimal and the band stuck hard to the "less talk, more rock" m.o.

The crowd response was very warm for the new material, which unsurprisingly took up about half the set list (they played about two-thirds of Pale Horses), and tackled with more of a raw fervor than on record; adding to that was Aaron Weiss's voice being super high in the mix here. I've never heard him clearer live in the dozen or so times I've seen them. It didn't seem like a deterrent, though. The audience was definitely way less rambunctious than that Foxes show too, but that was probably to be expected. Older stuff included all three "Spider" interludes from Brother, Sister, some good ones from Ten Stories (including first encore song "Cardiff Giant," which was given a bit of Hawaiian flavor) and the jaunty "February, 1878," as well as the gripping feel of "The Soviet" and the tense "Four Word Letter (Pt. Two)".

Set list (10:00-10:55):

Pale Horse
Red Cow
February, 1878
The Soviet
Blue Hen
Yellow Spider
Nice and Blue, Part Two
Magic Lantern Days
Cattail Down [f/ Conor Murphy on trumpet]
Orange Spider
A Glass Can Only Spill What It Contains
Four Word Letter (Pt. Two)
Brownish Spider
Mexican War Streets
Rainbow Signs
Encore (10:56-11:08):
Cardiff Giant
In a Sweater Poorly Knit [f/ basically everyone on the tour]
All Circles

Photo Credit: Carly Hoskins