by The Spin
Last week’s unexpected resurgence in winter weather kind of brought out The Spin’s ornery side, but as we wolfed down our cheeseburger and hustled up the steps to Mercy Lounge, we resolved not to let that stubborn douche Old Man Winter get the best of us. We entered to what sounded like a playlist from our iPod circa 2006 — lots of Iron & Wine and Beirut — issuing from Mercy’s speakers, with a handful of folks sitting cross-legged on the floor. Total dorm-core.
Kentucky native and Sub Pop artist Daniel Martin Moore started shortly after 9:30 with a set that we’re comfortable characterizing as “delicate.” With a two-man backing band that switched instruments just a bit, Moore played several wispily arranged numbers full of roots and Americana influence — we think it’s safe to say that the guy probably likes Jim Croce and Bob Seger at least a little bit. Moore has a gorgeous voice and a clear knack for gentle, sparse arrangements, but still … the volume of his playing was akin to listening to AM radio from an adjacent room, and as the crowd volume slowly grew to outweigh the band’s volume, we found our attention span waning just a bit. We’re sure Moore’s material is relatively captivating when it’s in a more intimate setting and you’re in the right mood, but as our companion put it, if his songs were a car, they’d probably be a Dodge Caravan or a Ford Contour: something reliable and familiar with a roof you can definitely strap camping equipment to.
Jessica Lea Mayfield and her backing band had the dose of volume we were looking for, however, especially thanks to the mean guitar tone provided by longtime local, Ghostfinger frontman and Scene fave Richie Kirkpatrick. By this point, there was a sizable turnout, clearly mostly made up of fans of Mayfield’s latest, Tell Me, and we particularly enjoyed Mayfield’s vocals on upbeat, unabashed pop numbers like “Blue Skies Again.” We were a little bummed that Mayfield’s bearded brother David wasn’t present to provide keys and backing vocals, but between the two numbers she performed solo and her unassuming, sweetly shy banter, we kind of ended up feeling like we were watching a set from our own surprisingly cool, talented little sis.
Honestly, one of our favorite things about watching Mayfield & Co. is seeing Kirkpatrick — the delightful character that he is — go off on his solos. Even though he was probably only roughly 50 percent as intense as he is during a Ghostfinger set, he still soloed like a mustachioed boardwalk salesman peddling stolen wares with a sly grin and a raised eyebrow — especially on the encore number “Somewhere in Your Heart.” Anyway, Mayfield’s drawl was intimate but not too precious, “Our Hearts Are Wrong” is a pretty great jam, and the whole shebang was over by midnight. It was enough to make The Spin leave feeling productive and completely sober, by God! How weird is that?