Concert review: Mewithoutyou at State Theatre, St. Petersburg

A look back at the Wed., Aug. 8 concert.

click to enlarge Mewithoutyou - Andrew Silverstein
Andrew Silverstein

For a man wrought in such torn, existential thinking on record, Mewithoutyou's Aaron Weiss has always put on such a primally intense live show you'd think he'd have the bloated hubris of a sweaty, tent-pole church preacher.

Until he talks. Because, for all his flailing, all the bulged neck veins, and panted shouts, Weiss has a disarmingly humble persona. Five-foot something and 150 pounds soaking wet, he could easily be the fodder for some shitty America's Got Talent, "whoa, bet you didn't expect that from this guy!" kind of segment.

Whether it's an earnest between-song "thanks" to some unknown character who fed or let his band sleep on their floor the night before, or another quiet "thanks" for whatever he feels thankful for, Weiss likes to express his appreciation. It's all he seems to do between songs. Of course, this is far from riveting, but it's the way he works, almost like some malnourished orphan being handed his first pot of porridge in a fortnight, that makes him and, as an extension, Mewithoutyou so interesting.

Their Wednesday performance at the State Theatre in St. Pete worked as an exercise in this wonderfully weird disconnect as Weiss and company hit town on tour in support of their latest release, Ten Stories.

Chalk it up to a bad night on the soundboard or just a bad night in general, but Mewithoutyou's last Florida stop in Orlando was a brief, sloppy endeavor as they trudged through an underwhelming opening set for Alkaline Trio.

Their sound at State was noticeably more improved, nuanced, and all-around tighter as they rifled through a set that relied heavily on the latest release. Weiss's off-kilter spoken word delivery can sometimes turn into entertaining, but often difficult new ways he likes to sing (or speak) his lyrics live live, but this time around he was decidedly by the book.

It worked well, too. Mewithoutyou's more aggressive songs like "C-Minor" and "Messes of Men" (prime territory for the aforementioned wordplay) breathed new life as Weiss backed off a tad, making room for the downright chilling backing vocals and lush compositions of both these songs.

Drummer Ricky Mazzotta deserves a nod, too. I've seen these guys three times now and always forgo mentioning the awesomeness that is watching this guy perform. Mazzotta hulks over his noticeably sparse drum set like some well-fed caveman beating the life out of his drums. His erratic style is often a treat to hear on record and even mores live as he destroys the kit with a manic fervor.

Wednesday night, if anything, proved that this charmingly unconventional outfit can put on a wildly intense and cathartic yet still great-sounding and nuanced show.