Show Review: The Both @ The Mohawk (8/13)

The BothWednesday night was a night I anticipated greatly.  Most of you should be aware of my undying man-crush on Ted Leo, but through the weeks I’ve gone on to really appreciate the work he’s down with Aimee Mann as the Both. They came to the Mohawk to thrill us all with their songs and their banter, bringing along friends Lemuria to kick-start the night.

When Lemuria released The Distance is So Big, I was really in love.  It was fueled with hooks and heavy riffs, but also made me a bit nostalgic with their sound.  Sadly, as I spend a great deal of my time listening to everything I get, they were put on the back-burner, that is until today.  Their set was spot-on perfection…filled with energy and humility.  Max Gregor surely wins the energy award of the whole evening, as he bounced and jerked his way throughout the entirety of the set.  But, don’t think main vocalist Sheena couldn’t hold her own.  Her guitar playing was near perfect, and despite the heat, she seemed to really being enjoying herself.  My personal highlight was “Oahu, Hawaii;” it’s one of their best hits, in my opinion.  They offered a glimpse at some new material, so let’s hope that comes our way sooner than later.

Then came the tour-de-force that is The Both.  Aimee Mann and Ted Leo are stars in their own right, amassing loyal fans throughout decades of brilliant musical careers; unite them, and you know you’re guaranteed a fair amount of great-songwriting…and on this night, hilarious banter.

But, as I sit here writing this, I can’t help other than to reflect upon the true inspiration behind witnessing a great musical show.  As I sit, every social media feed I’m part of is inundated with the grim reality of the world, be it ISIS, Ebola or Ferguson.  I care about those happenings, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t say that for three hours last night, I was treated to the best form of escapism.  Watching Aimee and Ted work their way through conversation and song was like watching VH1 Storytellers, though with musicians I actually care about.  Their banter ranged from Aimee’s dreams of a land full of Lemurs (Lemuria) to Ted’s Hobbit nerdom.  Regardless of topic, it was clear that they had a great rapport, which made each of their songs even more endearing.

As far as their set went, they gave us every great tune from their album as a songwriting pair, not to mention a few of their own personal hits.  It was great to see Ted still pulling off his Leo-style solos as he stood on his toes to match Aimee in vocal pitch.  Aimee manned the bass for the majority of the evening, locked in-step with Leo’s every move.  “Pay For It” probably got the biggest cheer, though I couldn’t help but appreciate every song where Aimee and Ted sang in unison; even live they seem the perfect counterpart for one another’s voice.  Mid-set Aimee offered “Save Me” from Magnolia and Ted gave us “Lonsdale Avenue,” in his hopes of matching the somber themes from Mann.  We were also treated to “Bottled in Cork” from Ted’s The Brutalist Bricks at the end of the set, just before they treated us to “Voices Carry” by Mann’s early band Til’ Tuesday.

All in all, I was able to live in a world, albeit for a brief moment, where all that mattered was the joy of the night, so if you’re in search of that escape, look for the Both to come to your town.