Live: MisterWives in Phoenix

In the alt pop scene, you’d be hard pressed to find two artists that share more fans than MisterWives and Smallpools. Although they’ve never toured together, they have several connections that run deep and are highly adored in the scene. When they announced that they would be hitting the road together, many a teenager was thrilled. This excitement became evident when the tour stopped at Phoenix’s The Van Buren, a newly constructed 1,800 cap venue that’s quickly earned praised among those who have visited. Although it took a hot minute for the room to fill, it was clear by the end of the night that the show was very nearly sold out. Vinyl Theater kicked the night off, clearly focusing on new material. The last time they hit Phoenix was early last spring with Dashboard Confessional. They had clearly tailored their set to fit with the vibe of the DC set, but their performance with Smallpools and MisterWives was more consistent with their previous tours. With a shortened set, songs obviously had to be cut, but many fans were put off with Vinyl Theater’s choice to only include one song—“Breaking up my Bones”—from their first album. The band also premiered an unreleased single, “Me, Myself, and I” to close out the set. After a roughly two year “hibernation” period, Smallpools released an EP, The Science of Letting Go in August and have been touring to support it since. Although they played a few shows (mostly at colleges) during their hibernation, their release party and this tour have been among the first opportunities the band has had to premiere their new material, and the crowd responded well. Fans were singing along to songs that were just released only a month earlier, proving that Smallpools fans have stuck around and were eagerly anticipating the new music. Despite the loss of Joe Intile as their touring bassist and the addition of Kelsey Kuther (brother of drummer Beau Kuther), Smallpools’ stage dynamic appears to have been given a new life by the break. Additionally, many of the songs from The Science of Letting Go don’t leave front man Sean Scanlon stuck behind his keys. Scanlon takes full advantage of the opportunity to roam the stage, whipping the crowd into a frenzy. Other members also seem to take on a new energy when given the chance to interact with Sean, removing any air of sophistication Smallpools may have once tried to convey and turning the whole set into a party. Smallpools is going in an exciting new direction, and although the crowd knew their older material better, they had very positive reactions to newer songs and the new dynamic. MisterWives have been a force to be reckoned with for the past few months—starting with an opening slot on Panic! at the Disco’s Death of a Bachelor tour, dropping an album, and touring non-stop to support it, their schedule this year makes us wonder if they might just be “Machine[s].” Don’t fear, however, because MisterWives is certainly not lacking anything in their performances. The set featured a solid mix of new and old material—their tour this summer heavily focused on their newest album, which raised eyebrows for longer-term fans. Although they had to add some creativity by mashing up some of their older songs, MisterWives blended their discography beautifully. The night was certainly one for knock-out covers, with Vinyl Theater taking on “Lose Yourself,” Smallpools covering “Creep,” and MisterWives mashing up twenty one pilots’ “Heavydirtysoul” and “Ride.” I’m the first to be critical of covers, but each band really did give it their all and paid due respect and then some to the OG artists. Another highlight of the show was MisterWives introduction of a surprise guest, a fan from the valley who posted covers of MW songs online. She was given the opportunity to play guitar with them for a song, and her smile and passion were infectious to those on and off stage. Armed with a highly-effective stage dynamic, bouncy rhymes, girl power, intimate moments, elaborate costumes, and, yes, rapping, MisterWives BRINGS the party. Their shows are rollercoasters of emotions that somehow leave you feeling more complete and grounded when you leave. With a lineup as dreamy as Vinyl Theater, Smallpools, and MisterWives, it would be pretty difficult to have anything less than a perfect night. MisterWives concerts are always a safe place, full of positivity, camaraderie, and fun. Lucky for the rest of the country, the Connect the Dots tour is just beginning, and fans all across the U.S. can still catch it when a city comes near them. -Kelly Fox \"Click