MisterWives Dazzles at First Stokes Set
MisterWives is one of those bands that has existed just on the outskirts of the mainstream since the drop of their first EP- titled “Reflections”- in 2014. The eclectic indie pop group, made up of powerhouse lead vocalist Mandy Lee and instrumentalists Etienne Bowler, Marc Campbell, William Hehir, and Mike Murphy, had notable potential from the moment they began working together, and they garnered a record deal within twenty-four hours of their first live performance. Their sound, which has been referred to by billboard as “the pop-rock answer to Iron Man we didn’t know we needed”, is filled with enough pizazz and ska-like interludes to make even the most sullen person want to dance. Combine that joyous soundscape with Mandy’s soaring, perfectly mixed high notes, and you have got yourself a feast for both the ears and the soul. And this past weekend, I had the opportunity to see this band perform live, an opportunity I had been waiting to snatch up for quite a long time.
I arrived at Stokes lawn last Saturday around three o’clock to find the beginnings of a markedly exciting event: the very first annual Stokes Set concert. My roommate and I were exceptionally early; the doors were not scheduled to open until 5:30. However, I made a point to arrive at an ungodly hour so that I could perhaps beat the crowds and make it to the front row. I perched myself on a short stone wall outside of Stokes to watch the band’s sound check. The band warmed up with songs I did not recognize, but that signature MisterWives edge had me mouthing along gibberish to the infectious beats. Mandy Lee’s voice hummed and soared through the open air, effortless and impressive but only hinting at what was to come. I could barely contain my excitement.
I made my way to where the line would eventually begin and held my position until a few other excited concertgoers arrived on the scene. I had turquoise eyeliner at the ready, and my friend and I both adorned our faces with a flamboyant “MW”; we were not messing around. Finally, it came time for the doors to open, and the seconds could not pass by any slower. The members of the campus activities board slowly began to set up ticket tables. I prepared to make a mad dash to the rail. I knew this was completely unnecessary as I was part of a seemingly small group of BC students who were avid fans of the band. But hey, if you are going to be a fan of something, you might as well go all in. I dropped my ticket into a cardboard box and playfully began to jog towards the rail. Students entering from another checkpoint took my brisk pace as a challenge and began to run as well. I picked up speed and made sure to secure my spot.
The concert opened with a funky, rousing performance from the school’s house band, Juice. As always, they offered nonstop groove and impressive musicianship. I had a great time listening to them, and their unique style, with all of its inventive instrumentation and jam sessions, worked well to prepare the audience for the singular sound that was to follow. Juice finished their set, and as the crew prepped the stage for MisterWives, the sun began to set. Fantastic lighting displays bathed the sides of Carney and Stokes in purple light along with a massive BC logo. An actual crowd began to assemble as students left behind their games of corn hole and moved in to view the main event. I could see the band huddling backstage, and I knew it was that time.
The trumpet player paved the way as he approached the stage and promptly began playing the intro to MisterWives’ upbeat tune “Best I Can Do”. The rest of the band followed with Mandy Lee bringing up the rear to a very excited audience welcome. Her voice gleefully cut through the crowd as she sang out that first energetic song, and the crowd exploded in delight as they danced along to the infectious, brass-heavy hook. The band’s positive energy was palpable through their endless smiles and their carefree dancing, especially in Mandy’s continuous motion and occasional acclamation of an accepting stance on such issues as gender equality and love. They then moved through eclectic tracks off their first album including “Box around the Sun”, “Oceans”, and “No Need for Dreaming”. Each retained the exact essence of its album recording, an incredible feat for a band with such unique sounds and vocals. Some of my favorite performances included “Reflections”, which got the entire audience screaming along to its unfathomably catchy melody, and “Not Your Way”, an anthem that Mandy made sure to teach to the audience before slipping into its wonderfully feminist lyrics. They also made a point to play two brand new songs off of their upcoming second album, one of which (called “Drummer Boy”) had the makings of an incredibly catchy future hit. The band closed with an encore performance of their fantastic, funky, smile-inducing song “Our Own House” that left the audience in just the best mood possible. For this number, the band brought out a drum for each of the three downstage members, and they cranked out a thrilling drum battle to close the show. I was even lucky enough to catch one of the drum sticks, a souvenir that made my entire night.
The band exceeded my already high expectations. I knew that they had a reputation for putting on a good show, but they did it with an incredible amount of humility, genuineness, and fun. I would absolutely recommend seeing them in concert, and I absolutely plan to see them again once they release their second album.