I love when bands tour with other bands that they love and seem to have a genuine good time with. I had the pleasure of attending last night's Mates of State show at the Ottobar. Free Energy opened for them and both bands were great. They also shared a joy throughout the evening that I do not remember from many of the concerts that I have seen in the past, especially when I was living in New York. Maybe I am making a huge jump here, but there is something specific to Baltimore that I find provides the environment necessary to have a joyful experience as a viewer and feel a part of what is happening, rather than just feeling like a voyeur. I always end up having a good time at the Ottobar as well, it is a great space to see shows, one is never too far from the performers, and the crowds are generally invested in the music. 

The show last night began with a dreadlocked performer who escaped a straightjacket and swallowed swords. I am still perplexed as to how he connected to the bands or whether he just happened on stage at the right moment, but something silly is maybe what all shows should begin with and he committed to what it is he was doing so I respect him for that. Free Energy was next, I had never heard them before last night, but completely fell for their energy, spirit, and music. It also helps that all the members of the band are adorable and look like they are having the time of their lives on stage. It makes them great to watch and from what I could hear of their lyrics I liked them a lot.

Mates of State took the stage and started with two of their songs from Re-Arrange Us. They are two of my favorite songs, but the entire set was awesome, even the songs I did not know. There is something really romantic about a married couple making music together and it is enhanced by Gardner and Hammel's songs. Love and creation. I think it is how the world should be, we should find people that we love and make things with them, whatever form that takes. This is where joy comes from and this joy was evident in the show last night. Gardner and Hammel communicated through the entire set, their vocal harmonies are amazing and the two musicians that played with them, one on guitar and one on trumpet also embraced the feeling of love, excitement, and happiness. The smiles were continuous, the energy explosive, and even though the crowd was a little quiet, I think it was a quiet contentment. 

It was a beautiful show. Last night was the end of the Free Energy/Mates of State tour, but if you are in New York, Mates of State are playing two more shows. See them if you can!