Mattiel at Cafe du Nord, by William Wayland

Mattiel (photo: William Wayland)

Words by Elaine Blakely

Some lead vocalists wear clothing specific to their music genre: Siouxsie Sioux and Robert Smith. Some wear outfits to make the mood festive: Flaming Lips. And then some performers don’t care to wear any clothing at all: Flea. Saturday, Feb. 2, 2020 at Café Du Nord, headliner Mattiel, and the opening act, Calvin Love, looked like they jumped out of the pages of Vogue magazine. With Mattiel’s previous life as an illustrator and web designer, it’s hardly surprising she would approach her music and performance in any other way.

Mattiel Brown, vocals and songwriter of Mattiel (pronounced maa-TEEL), grew up in rural Georgia and currently resides in Atlanta. She was accompanied by Jonah Swilley on bass and guitar, Randy Michael, also on bass and guitar, and Jordan Manley on drums. Mattiel has been on tour promoting the latest LP, Satis Factory, on ATO Records released June 2019. Jack White of the White Stripes and Third Man Records, asked Mattiel to tour with him, and… you can fill in the rest. For the past few years, Mattiel has been on a world tour, including performing live on indie radio stations in Europe and the USA. Mattiel’s influences by the Velvet Underground can be heard in the song, Millionaire. Other songs sound reminiscent of The Strokes, such as Bye Bye. As Mattiel’s fan base grows exponentially, she shared her excitement that night, appearing to be surprised by the audience singing along to the hit, Food For Thought, a wordy poetic piece on excessiveness in our culture.

Opening for Mattiel was a unique lounge-like singer songwriter and Canadian, Calvin Love. On the Northwest tour with Mattiel, Love began the night donning a 12 string, sitting on a stool, singing folk ballads. After a few songs, he stood up to set aside his guitar, turned to the audience and announced, “This is what you’ve been waiting for!’’ and switched his act to a Vegas lounge singer with prerecorded accompaniment. Love has written, produced, and recorded all the music with a bass player, tenor sax, keyboardist and drummer. He gave a heart-throbbing performance with a voice and sound like Roy Orbison mixed with a bit of the David Bowie’s Thin White Duke. His latest LP Night Songs will be released on vinyl this month.