Saturday September 15th – It’s scorching, all the bodies are crammed toward the stage with the exception of the staff and merch crews at Fubar are huddled close to stage. Everywhere I look are the marks of youth, x’s on hands, pop sockets and the occasional parental escort. It’s so swampy in the venue the long dark curls of hair from the girl in front of me is sticking to my hands as I adjust my camera settings. The anticipation in the air is almost as dense as the humidity. St. Louis showed up tonight and sold out Fubar for Mom Jeans., Shortly, Just Friends and Mover Shaker. The tour brings big fun and a nice mix of genres, from indie Shortly to Ska styled Just Friends, Mom Jeans. and Mover Shaker fall more closely to the pop punk and emo, each with beautiful eccentricities.
Shortly begins the set tonight at Fubar St. Louis with slow delicate chords playing out of the guitar of lead singer Alexandria Maniak. Shortly released their debut EP on September 14th entitled Richmond via Triple Crown Records. White holiday lights climb up the mic stands and the crowd is shockingly quite. Normally playing second on the tour, Shortly takes the stage first tonight as Fubar contains two venues and a Metal band is set up next door. Shortly slowly burns like a flame in the darkness, not shying away from vulnerability with her fans, Maniak takes the time to explain the origin of “While We’re on the Subject,.” A song from the new EP, “While We’re on the Subject” opens the conversation up about assault in an evocative portrait of experience. Shortly has a well refined sound and the vocal talent often compared to Julien Baker but certainly stands out on her own as an incredibly talented writer, musician and vocalist.
Mover Shaker gears up and vows to give the metal show next door a run for their money, opening with two new songs. Mover Shaker has great energy and the instrumentals lay into each other like pieces of a puzzle. They delve into their 2016 release Michigania with emo vibes and riotous riff. After finishing out “Quiet Room” they tease about having played St. Louis before, the first time to 1 person and now they are playing to a sold out crowd because “this is what being gay in 2018 will get you” met with cheers by the crowd. Dipping into another new song “Service Provider” has a bright tone to the instrumentals and contrasts wonderfully with the vocals. “No Backyard” closes out the set. Self described as heavy metal it has some old school skate punk vibes thrown in and gets the packed venue floor moving and heads banging along with the drums.
Just Friends brought a riotous party, with 9 members crowded upon the stage at Fubar including a trombone and trumpet player this Ska band is bringing back the genre. The entire crowd is dripping in sweat in the sold out room and our side of the venue is about 20 degrees warmer than the rest of the building or outside. Just Friends is banging out killer songs from their 2018 release Nothing but Love. As the third song kicks in a crowd surfer passes over my head and trying to cradle my camera, while trying to help pass the kid onto the crowd in front on me, he is dropped right on my neck. He’s ok and as he pops up the crowd is jumping, dancing and pushing around as vocalist Sam Kless and Brianda Goyos León keep amping the crowd up. Chuck tailors continue to point toward the ceiling as the brass section of “Flex” starts up and Kless begins “I thought I would end up alone,” with super catchy lyrics like “I just wanna dance with you baby/I wanna be all yours tonight/Can’t believe I’m callin’ you baby” “Flex” is an breezy and fun bop. “Worry” plays a much more somber tone to the lyrics involved with “I know that it feels like your darkest days are here and they’re gonna stay / Who they gonna hate now? Pretty soon they’re gonna hate me” the song aggressive in a manner of self defense and not taking any flack. A chorus of claps and “we chop it up” kicks off the finale for Just Friends “Never Gonna Bring You Down” as fans sing along and fill in the choruses while the party on stage rounds out the with full force energy of hands in the air and crowd surfers bouncing by.
By the time Mom Jeans. is sound checking, Fubar feels like a swamp. The band is passing water through the gridlocked crowd in front of the stage. The 2018 release of Puppy Love packed a laundry list of great songs, and their set opener “Near Death Fail Comp” is no exception. Fans immediately chime in singing at the top of their lungs and cell phones go up to record and photograph the band. Followed closely by “Sponser Me Tape” the understated tone of the vocals of Bart Starr and Gabriel Paganin pairs smoothly with the self aware and often self deprecating lyrics of their music. Mom Jeans. is giving this show 100% while likely suffering a heat stroke, met with all the enthusiasm of anything but fair weather fans. We are treated to Just Friend’s Brianda Goyos León hopping onstage and singing her vocal parts with Mom Jeans. to “You Can’t Eat Cats Kevin” as her dark hair swirls around her face she dances and provides harmonies to the Puppy Love hit. On top of the amazing live show Mom Jeans. has put out Puppy Love, Best Buds and a split with Graduating Life all entertaining emo albums that evolve and grow with each new release. Mom Jeans. was recommended to me by other bands and over the last year I have certainly seen why, supportive, talented and making moves, Mom Jeans. is one to watch.
The bands refer to this tour as a ‘traveling circus’ and I can see what they mean, full of energy and excitement, fun, interesting persons, it’s overall a great time. The musical genres compliment each other well and the bands all support each other and can be seen dancing and singing along to each other’s sets even in a blazing hot sold out venue. This leg of the tour wraps in September 30th in Seattle with Shortly at Chop Suey. Mom Jeans. and Just Friends will picks up again October 19th in Reno and runs until November 18th with Awake but Still in Bed and Retirement Party.
Photojournalist : Jessi McKee