Matchbox Twenty - Comerica Theater - 7/26/2013
As much as I embrace the label in a jaded attempt to disarm its pathetic sting, "hipster" doesn't really describe me. I listen to hundreds of musicians, scattered from every genre you can name (except ska, because fuck ska), but I never choose to like a band because they're obscure. Most of the time, I just like what I like, and sometimes that isn't cool. Case in point: my old preteen crush, Matchbox Twenty.
All photos by Maria Vassett
It's understandable if you don't like Rob Thomas and Co. They blossomed from the ashes of grunge, they're overplayed and overproduced, and the majority of their fans seem to be the "adult contemporary" crowd, which are those folks who buy jeans that are already torn, eat at Chili's because they like the bar, and read memoirs about ex-heroin addicts or cancer survivors.
Regardless, I still have a tongue-in-cheek love for Matchbox Twenty. I mentioned before that their 2000 album Mad Season is really great music for going through a breakup. In fact, two months ago, that was the only reason I agreed to cover this show, and now I wasn't too sure about it. Matchbox Twenty were my go-to band exactly 10 years ago, as a 13-year-old. Part of my desire to go this gig was to recapture whatever innocence I had before puberty had really run its course. Part of it was to get a little more closure on that relationship that I'm tired of talking about, you're tired of hearing about, but something still lingers there and it comes back to me in shadowlike moments.
I was slightly late to this show, because I guess having one opening act and starting on time doesn't mean they're gonna keep everyone waiting. I came in on a song I didn't recognize (I haven't given their last two albums much of a listen), but I was able to catch "Disease." This immediately brought me back to the time I played the song for my then 6-year-old brother, telling him this is what real rock 'n' roll is. How embarrassing.
Anyway, the stage was fucking amazing. There were these cube things with video screens and LED lights stringing the stage and abstract doodlings were flung all over the walls. It felt like I was watching a concert DVD, and I'm sure the footage could've been used for one. This was definitely an ode to high production values, and as much as I love lo-fi, static drenched DIY, at least this wasn't Maroon 5. The music and lyrics, while hard to swallow sometimes, are definitely more authentic than the majority of mainstream pop, and I think that's enough to give Matchbox Twenty a pass.
The show wasn't without its share of cheesiness. For example, a giant clock radio appeared on the screen, stuck at 2:57 a.m. I'm sure you can guess which song it counted down to. The pin-up girls during "She's So Mean" and the vague political notions of "How Far We've Come" didn't lend much credibility, but I'll forgive that, because that guitar ripped at me on songs like "All I Need" and "If You're Gone."
It was a healthy balance of new songs and old, and I have to say, I haven't outgrown this band. While much of their discography weighs in on sappy, dysfunctional relationships, their more mature, recent cuts like "Our Song" and "Overjoyed" are just damn good love songs. And you know, I agree with Paul McCartney on that one -- what's wrong with that?