Photos by T.J. Mimbs
Monday night, WATERS kicked off Noise Pop 2014 with the final performance of his month-long residency at Brick & Mortar. Despite having played the same venue for the last three Monday nights in a row, the band, led by Van Pierszalowski and showing zero signs of wear and tear, gave the audience an evocative show powered by often frenzied emotion.
Before the main event, The Tambo Rays treated the audience to half an hour of its chill-pop tunes. Between familiar songs like “Take That,” when keyboardist Sara DaMert take over on lead vocals, replacing her brother Brian DaMert’s collected and cool vocals with her own R&B-tinged spoken word delivery, The Rays treated the audience to some new songs: “Ocean,” and “Sun,” two melodic, summertime numbers.
After a short intermission, WATERS took the stage with veteran ease, beginning their headlining set with no hesitation or introduction. “We’re going to get right to it,” Van explained, “This is our new single.” The hook-laden, drum-driven tune “Got to My Head,” was unmistakable, and although it’s not even a week old, many fans in the crowd sang the words with complete familiarity.
Through renditions of “For the One,” and “The Avenue,” Van’s accessible and poignant lyrics pierced the casual air of a regular Monday night, and paired with his contorted face, it was often hard to look away from his telling expressions. Though when you did finally come to and gaze across the stage at WATERS as a full band, singing into mics wrapped from top to bottom in red rope lights, it only amplified the warm and wild energy that fuels the project.
“If you’ve been here, you know the drill,” Van said, and as those who had been to a previous residency show came in close to crowd the stage, he stepped in front of the mic. He explained that everyone had to be absolutely silent, except when shouting “Forever, forever,” for the chorus of an acoustic version of “Mickey Mantle.”
After a few practice tries, he demanded, “One more time, as loud as you fucking can, then shut the fuck up!” The audiences settled, and he began singing a hushed version of the song through tense lips. Delivering each verse with a furrowed brow, he became animated only when the chorus lit up the entire room. As he and the crowd shouted, “Forever, forever,” at each other with as much vigor as they could muster, he practically hovered over the edge of the stage, sending tiny spit trails in the first two rows of people.
For the last song, an extended encore after what was an intimate highlight of the show, he invited several friends on stage so that there was a solid row of people from stage left to stage right. They shout-sang a Port O’Brien song called “I Woke Up Today,” closing out a month-long residency and opening up the week-long party that is Noise Pop with pure energy and excitement.