Hey Mercedes / This Is Me Smiling - live in Chicago (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Hey Mercedes / This Is Me Smiling

live in Chicago (2005)

live show

June opened, but I worked until 6 so Scott picked me up right when they started. To cut things short: we missed them. Oh damn.

The Junior Varisty sounded like a bunch of teenagers riding a music trend. Oh wait, that's what they are.

This is Me Smiling. I didn't know Ben Folds Five sucked this much.

Regardless, the Metro fucked Hey Mercedes over, denying them their choice of opening bands like Mock Orange and some others. I didn't pay attention to other sets; instead, I spent time hanging with Scott, making fun of the openers, and meeting Greg and Brandon.

For anyone to understand my review, I feel it's important that you understand my relationship to this band. Back in high school, I was listening to some not-so-good music. I thought Saves The Day was the greatest band ever, and Through Being Cool was a masterpiece. So when I went to see them, my friends wanted to check out the opening band, which, of course, was Hey Mercedes. They were raving about how awesome this band was, and me, well, I just waited until the show. And I was blown away. It changed my life and the way I viewed music. No, I did not grow up with Braid and whatever. Crucify me for it. This isn't a Hey Mercedes/Braid dispute. This is the celebration of a band that helped shaped my musical tastes today. Though I've strayed far from the genre that most would categorize the band in (I've been much more interested in proto-punk, hardcore, and experimental music these days), I haven't been able to shake my love for this band. They turned me on to variant time signatures and extensive melodies, and taught me that it was okay to hold one chord for most of a song. And while I wasn't too shocked about them breaking up or disturbed by it, I still felt a huge stab when Bob said on stage "We've had a great time, and I don't just mean tonight."

Scott, like the jerk he is, secured an All Access pass. He tried to get one for me too, but apparently Punknews doesn't pull as much weight as AP. Heh, that's a joke meant to poke fun at Scott, which is okay for me to do. I don't want this thread to be all about Scott or AP or Braid. So anyway, like the rest of the peons (including the drunk frat boys behind me), I watched the show from the crowd. Now I don't have a set list, and they played for over an hour, so I forgot it, but I know Scott took a picture of it and he can post it in the thread for those interested.

To sum it up, they played songs off of every release. They played the entire first EP, almost everything off of Eveynight Fireworks, about half of Loses Control, "Save A Life" from the Weekend EP, and two songs off of the upcoming EP. The show started off with some technical diffictulties, with Bob's guitar shorting out, Damon's drum pedal breaking, Mike falling over, and other assorted mix problems which caused the guitars to sound like ass for at least the first half of the show, but when everything was sorted out, they sounded amazing.

Perhaps the coolest and crappiest thing about the show was the singing along. It was so loud that you could actually hear it at the same volume level as the band. And though I was annoyed at first, I realized how many of these kids absolutely just loved this band (including the drunk frat boys standing behind me). And when Bob encouraged everyone to sing along to "Our Weekend Starts On Wednesday," I found myself singing as well. "Que Shiraz" was great to listen to with the group vocals, and the audience participation on "Quality Revenge At Last" with the "yeah, yeah!" part of the chorus was stunning. What caught me though was that even though my favorite song, "Bells," was played, it wasn't my favorite of the show. They closed the set with "Let's Go Blue," and came back for the encore. They played an extremely riveting emotional version of "Quit," which seemed to be speaking to the band when Bob sang "Quit if you're through with it, you are going to make me sick." But the show stealer was "Stay Six." They ended the entire show with this song, and I've never heard it better. It was always a decent song to me, but never really struck me until I saw them play it live. It was a happy, joyful farewell to pick up the spirits after "Quit."

If this show is seen as a funeral for the band, it's the kind of funeral that I would want. Sure, everyone is sad for their loss, but instead of moping, they celebrate, and let me tell you, the show last night was a celebration.

Set List:

  • The Boy Destroyers
  • The Frowning Of A Lifetime
  • St. James St.
  • Our Weekend Starts On Wednesday
  • It's Been A Blast
  • --
  • Quality Revenge At Last
  • Haven't Been This Happy
  • A-List Actress
  • Que Shiraz
  • Go On Drone
  • --
  • Eleven To Your Seven
  • Every Turn
  • Knowing When To Stop
  • Roulette Systems
  • The House Shook
  • --
  • Bells
  • Save A Life
  • Unorchestrated
  • Let's Go Blue
  • Quit
  • Stay Six