Bear Suits and What They Mean to Me: This Wild Life and Have Mercy live at Orpheum in Ybor City

Weird weather, weird people, and good tunes

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click to enlarge This Wild Life at Orpheum in Ybor City, Florida on September 25, 2016. - Brian Mahar
Brian Mahar
This Wild Life at Orpheum in Ybor City, Florida on September 25, 2016.

By this point, the classic "sun shower out of nowhere" on a sleepy Floridian Sunday with folks running for cover under the awnings of a city street is so clichéd that it's painful. It's like the opening to a shitty Rom-Com. But it happens. And outside Ybor’s The Orpheum, that's exactly what I saw. What was quickly pleasant turned into a storm upon entry of the venue, nothing major, just the kind of nonsense we're all used to by now. This helped created the perfect setting for Movements, the four-piece emo revivalists to start their set. 

Movements was a surprise for certain. Their spoken word breakdowns made perfect callbacks to the progenitors of the emo movement, with deeply experimental and often discordant sounds, but with a little more restraint. They played with a bored, almost sullen anger that was oddly fitting. That would normally be a criticism, but their hyper detached posturing proved fitting enough. If they were truly angry, it was probably the weather, as it did suck for the uninitiated. They're a band with room to grow, talented for certain, point proven with the track "Vacant Home" and "Kept" their closing track which was excellent with roaring screams and celestial guitar work. The prettiest of sounds with the harshest of screams, the classic ode to the scene. 

In keeping Florida weird, as the roadies went in to break down the stage and get the gear ready for Have Mercy, I saw a man in a bear costume. Thinking I had begun to hallucinate, I comically wiped my eyes and found that no, indeed he was real, and he had presumably been there for Movements as well.  I didn't understand why he was there, maybe he didn't either. Maybe that was the point?

click to enlarge This Wild Life at Orpheum in Ybor City, Florida on September 25, 2016. - Brian Mahar
Brian Mahar
This Wild Life at Orpheum in Ybor City, Florida on September 25, 2016.

So bear people aside, Have Mercy did a fine job, and with two solid albums under their belt and a third on the way, Have Mercy dove in with "To Convey' a startlingly powerful opener. They continued with very little dialogue in between, keeping up a steady stream of sound. Have Mercy's last tracks like "Two Years", "Let's Talk About Your Hair” and the tremendous "When You Sleep" were simply spellbinding. There were some consistent balance issues throughout, but it's bound to happen once and a while with every venue being so different. I'm just glad that they also noticed the man in the bear costume, frontman Brian Swindle called it out to everyone by announcing that there was "a giant woodlands creature in the audience and to not be alarmed." He, of course, asked the follow up question we were all thinking "So you drive with that thing on?" Presumably, he does. 

That's two artists, which leaves us with our headliner, This Wild Life, who is ironically not very wild. It's here that I would like to differentiate between my personal taste and my evaluation of This Wild Life as an artist playing a live show. So yes, This Wild Life is not for me, it's not something I enjoy. I feel tepid at best regarding their output and during the show if I closed my eyes I would have sworn I was trapped in Pac-Sun. However, as an artist, as musicians during a live performance, Kevin's voice was beyond clear and crisp, and the musicality from the rest of the band was equally on par, if not somewhat diminished after Movements and Have Mercy.  But to go from Epic Problems (RIP) to The Orpheum is no small feat, so I say keep it up, dudes. They played a lot of tracks from their most recent album Low Tides which seemed to be relatively diverse considering their limited style.

This Wild Life did a great job addressing some of the lyrical origins for their songs with a superb honesty, covering topics ranging from single-parent households ("Pink Tie”) to struggles with cancer ("No More Bad Days"). These are things worth talking about.  It's still not for me but for those who were there, all in attendance hung on every word, which must mean that it went well.

Oh, and to that dude in the bear suit, keep on rocking.

click to enlarge This Wild Life at Orpheum in Ybor City, Florida on September 25, 2016. - Brian Mahar
Brian Mahar
This Wild Life at Orpheum in Ybor City, Florida on September 25, 2016.

click to enlarge This Wild Life at Orpheum in Ybor City, Florida on September 25, 2016. - Brian Mahar
Brian Mahar
This Wild Life at Orpheum in Ybor City, Florida on September 25, 2016.

click to enlarge This Wild Life at Orpheum in Ybor City, Florida on September 25, 2016. - Brian Mahar
Brian Mahar
This Wild Life at Orpheum in Ybor City, Florida on September 25, 2016.

click to enlarge This Wild Life at Orpheum in Ybor City, Florida on September 25, 2016. - Brian Mahar
Brian Mahar
This Wild Life at Orpheum in Ybor City, Florida on September 25, 2016.

click to enlarge This Wild Life at Orpheum in Ybor City, Florida on September 25, 2016. - Brian Mahar
Brian Mahar
This Wild Life at Orpheum in Ybor City, Florida on September 25, 2016.

click to enlarge Orpheum in Ybor City, Florida on September 25, 2016. - Brian Mahar
Brian Mahar
Orpheum in Ybor City, Florida on September 25, 2016.

click to enlarge This Wild Life at Orpheum in Ybor City, Florida on September 25, 2016. - Brian Mahar
Brian Mahar
This Wild Life at Orpheum in Ybor City, Florida on September 25, 2016.

click to enlarge Orpheum in Ybor City, Florida on September 25, 2016. - Brian Mahar
Brian Mahar
Orpheum in Ybor City, Florida on September 25, 2016.

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