Loners, Together: Missio + Welshly Arms in NYC REVIEW+PHOTOS: MISSIO + WELSHLY ARMS @ BOWERY BALLROOM 3/3/18
NEW YORK, NY- The house lights are turned down low and the stage illuminated just enough for us to discern angular silhouettes moving into view.
As the strip-lights flash white, the crowd screams its excitement. The three musicians — Matthew Brue and David Butler, the core duo of Missio, and Jaydon Bean, who rounds out the touring outfit — strike me as tight coils of energy, as lightning about to be unleashed. The set starts with a new song, “Temple Priest,” Matthew’s translucent white robe swirling as he dances back and forth across the Bowery Ballroom stage, David’s pigtails flying as he dances behind an array of keys, Jaydon’s laser focus on his bandmates as he sets the rhythmic backing.
From the first song to the encore, Missio is intensely connected with the people there to share the moment. The Austin-based alternative/electronic rock band captures an acute sense of social isolation in their lyrics, and redirects it into a space of acceptance and belonging. Each evening, they transform clubs into a gathering place for misfits and loners. The sincerity behind their messages — battling addiction, finding connection amidst alienation — is part of what’s garnered a devoted and ever growing group of fans. You’ll recognize them at shows with their “Missio Mafia” shirts, buttons, and temporary (and permanent) tattoos — I’ve met a teacher, a writer whose storylines draw in part from these concert experiences, and others who have traveled from halfway across the country — fans of varied backgrounds, united by Missio’s music.
Welshly Arms kicked off the evening with a high-octane blend of rock and blues and soul (Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight features one of their songs). Sam Getz, the frontman, shifts into high gear from the first note, and with songs like the anthemic “Legendary,” Getz and bandmates — Brett Lindemann (keys, vocals), Jimmy Weaver (bass, vocals), Mikey Gould (drums), Bri Bryant (vocals), and Jon Bryant (vocals) — leave it all on the floor. It’s no surprise that some of the front-row fans at the Bowery that night came for Welshly Arms — and it was also no surprise that they left as new fans of Missio.
It was my third time seeing Missio (photos + interview from last year here), and when a set is so seamless and high-energy, it can be hard to imagine how a band will kick it up a notch or mix things up — but Missio constantly finds ways to embed change-ups and surprises, including an intriguing sample of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” at the start of the diffident “I Don’t Give A —.”
The single that skyrocketed Missio onto the national scene — “Middle Fingers” — was one of many highlights of the evening, as the crowd pumped their hands in the air. It was a visual communication of the kind of solidarity among strangers that keep drawing us back to this music.