Friday was a long night.
My partner in crime and I were greeted with a fully sold-out show at White Oak Music Hall, full of young couples yearning for an intimate journey that sourly reeked, reminiscent of a high school dance. After arriving a tad bit late to what soon unveiled itself as the tamest escapade of the century, we were shoved to the back of the venue. There we found ourselves sandwiched between a father closely supervising his daughter and friends and an eager teen who couldn’t wait till the headliner arrived to light up a joint.
As we got acquainted with our surroundings, we watched Michael Seyer and posse play through a few directionless tracks that, quite frankly, felt more like a jam session than anything else. The highlight of Seyer’s performance was watching the blank-faced keyboardist unapologetically strike a triangle, to which the audience responded with more excitement than any other moment of the set. One of the final songs the band performed, Modern Loneliness, resembled Radiohead’s “Creep”, minus the contemplative aspect and a more dull overtone. A collective of forgettable songs and a flamboyant keyboardist summed up to roughly 45 minutes of my life that I can’t reclaim.
We optimistically waited for the headliner to change the course of the night. “Don’t worry,” we told ourselves, “This may just be some sadistic manipulation, precisely cultivated by both bands to participate in a good cop, bad cop arrangement.” Spoiler alert: it wasn’t. When Men I Trust entered the stage, the One Direction-like fangirls emerged from thin air, piercing my ear drum with their high-volume shrieks.
The time had arrived for our sulking to be washed away and replaced with sediments of reverb and trance-inducing vocals. I quickly recognized the opening bassline to “Tailwhip,” and my now-shot ears sought to hear Proulx’s soft voice elevate me into some higher state. After a minute or two, I realized something had gone wrong with the sound mixing. Proulx’s voice was not carrying to any lengths, nor her guitar. Stray keyboard notes stuck out like a sore thumb. The trio awkwardly crawled through their newest album “Untourable Album,” with vocals barely audible. Chitchat among audience members escalated as they clearly grew impatient of waiting to hear the band’s most popular song, “Show Me How.”
It was time to make a judgement call. Do I want to stand here in discomfort and have a now-tainted view of a band who’s not at fault for this concert’s shortcomings, or leave early and live forever in uncertainty if the show would’ve improved? I decided the latter. I fled to the internet’s greatest source of information to find out what was going on (Reddit). It seemed like a similar situation occurred a day before at the band’s performance in Austin, TX, where the sound mixing went haywire, leaving the performers to play their instruments purely by feel. It was an unfortunate situation and I genuinely hope the rest of the Houston show took a brighter route. Nonetheless, I will still be bumping Men I Trust and waiting for another visit from the Canadian indie-rockers.