Thursday, November 3, 2016
One Longfellow Square, Portland, Maine
I am usually disappointed when I see shows I want to go to are scheduled for Thursday nights, because it means I have to skip sparring and my women’s Brazilian jiu jitsu class (and my instructor is a beast and doesn’t like it when I’m absent), but I am mostly glad I made an exception for this show. I introduced my former advisee, Carmen, who is now a freshman at Bowdoin College, to Mipso, and she came to see them with me last time they were in town on Valentine’s Day. When Carmen told me she was planning to go and would save me a seat (which she fortunately was able to do), I decided to join her.
When I arrived at One Longfellow Square, I ran into Portland’s own Griffin Sherry of The Ghost of Paul Revere fame, and was able to catch up with him about their upcoming touring scheduled (which is plentiful). I found Carmen in the front row of what little seating existed, since the staff had pushed the seats to the side to create a dance floor (which the website did warn about, but I’d forgotten). OLS–please don’t do this limited seating thing. It’s awful. You’re a listening room, and that’s a wonderful thing. When you clear the room, you encourage people to stop listening. It has happened 100% of the time I’ve been to one of these “limited seating” shows. This night, there was a belligerent dude in a CrossFit t shirt who kept heckling the band and shouting over the music the whole show. I just don’t think people would be as inclined to act so inappropriately in a seated venue. He was super obnoxious. Also, the bands you’ve cleared the floor for (maybe at their request?) just aren’t bands you really can or would dance to, either.
Lula Wiles opened the show and they were delightful. Isa Burke and Ellie Buckland traded a fiddle and guitar back and forth and both sang their hearts out. I wouldn’t have known they were a trio if they hadn’t mentioned that their bass player Mali was missing that night. Isa’s little sister, Julianna, joined them on stage and sang Mali’s part for one song and was great, too. Check out “Losing Side.” Lula Wiles is the real deal, and I will definitely see them next time they’re in town.
Carmen and I traded raised eyebrows when our beloved Mipso took the stage with a drummer in tow. They’re a young bluegrass band from North Carolina with beautiful lyrics and harmonies, but the drums drowned them out and it changed the entire vibe for both of us. I theorized that they added a drummer because they play a lot in bars and could use the volume for those venues, but I was disappointed, whatever the reason. Their drummer (who is talented, just not necessary) left the stage about halfway through their set, much to our relief. It was nice to hear the Mipso we know and love and actually be able to hear the lyrics of the songs.
Lead singer Joseph Terrell (who has a stunningly clear voice) sang “When I’m Gone” for his grandmother, Eldora. I glanced over to the “dance floor” (where no one was dancing because this was not dance music) and saw my dear college friend, Ken Templeton, who was there to cover the show for Boston’s Red Line Roots (he didn’t take kindly to the drunk CrossFit guy, either). Since he’d never seen Mipso before, he wasn’t offended at all by the addition of a drummer like we were (which is to say, you will still like them if you’ve never heard them before). At the end of the night, Mipso invited Lula Wiles back to the stage and treated us to a great rendition of Bob Dylan’s “When I Paint My Masterpiece.” It was a delight to catch up with Griffin, Carmen, and Ken, and I was relieved that the obnoxious drunk guy wasn’t wearing a MMA shirt. #represent