Mipso is poised for a breakout year. Their fantastic third album, Coming Down the Mountain, was released two weeks ago, they’re hosting the MerleFest all-star jam in the midst of a two-month album release tour, and they are playing with swagger. The band took the stage at The Sinclair on Saturday and, with a few quick rips from Libby Rodenbough’s fiddle, launched into “Hurts So Good,” the single from the new album. The effect on the crowd was palpable and where a minute before people had been chatting and snapping pictures, they were immediately locked in with the group, bouncing and grooving. “Get Out,” from the band’s first album, Dark Holler Pop, continued the feeling of a good summer backyard party.
Shifting into a set of more subdued numbers from Coming Down the Mountain, including a really beautiful version of “Hallelujah,” from Jacob Sharp. Jacob’s voice is unique and he’s able to sing really high; in this show, he played with his lead vocals more than I’d heard him do before, working with modulations that really underscored the feeling of each song. Despite performing gorgeously, the crowd’s attention started to flicker a bit–all in for bouncing, not so much for really listening. But this is where a less confident band would withdraw into themselves, just keep playing, and make it through the set. Instead, as she brought out a single microphone for the band to play around, Libby said, “Joseph [Terrell] and I are going to play a song for only the second time live; the fewer words you say, the easier it’ll be for us to remember the words.” This was the way to pull the crowd in: to remind us, without admonishment, that we’re part of live music too. In the most stripped-down moment of the night, Joseph and Libby delivered “Cry Like Somebody,” to a pin-drop quiet audience, each of us contributing to song with our attention and silence. And when someone’s phone dinged with a new text message, hey, well, at least it was on the beat. Smiling a bit, Joseph said, “That was hands down my favorite time playing that song live.”
That move, to call people into the show, almost guaranteed the rest of the night. Joined around the single mic by Jacob and Wood Robinson (bass) for “When I’m Gone,” and then “Eliza,” a song that you could see several people had been waiting and hoping for, the band never looked back. Joseph shared that he has recently moved to Somerville, commenting that he likes “the trains that go underground,” and Market Basket. Big applause for Market Basket.
Going back to their full band setup, they romped through “Talking In My Sleep” and crowd favorites “Marianne” and “Louise.” But now they could shift back to quieter numbers and keep everybody invested. Joseph’s singing on “Monterey County,” was understated and I was especially blown away by “Down in the Water,” which was just so pure and perfect.
Mipso is at the beginning of a two-month run of shows up and down the east coast and out to the midwest. You can find tour dates here. If you don’t know this band already, you will soon, and seeing them live is the perfect introduction.