Live: My Beef With Mechanical Boy
(l to r) Jason Castle, Matt Wheeler, Tim Anderson, Michael Regino, & Chris Applegate.
Photo by Joon Photography.
WAREHOUSE LIVE -- 7/10/09: I had been hearing about Mechanical Boy for awhile now, and it had always been my intention to check them out. So while I'm on their Myspace one day, I figured, "I really dig these guys," and I send them a friend request. That was the first mistake in a downward spiral of circumstance and innuendo that would culminate in a face-to-face confrontation at their July 10th Warehouse Live show. But I'm getting ahead of myself; let me give you the backstory.
I take a weird sense of pride in our local music scene. For some reason, I feel a connection to every band in town putting hours of practice into their craft, pouring their hearts into their music, sweating and toiling for something they love and for the most part being underappreciated for it. I feel that every band in Houston represents me and is my brother. Weird, I know -- I'm talking to a therapist about it. Which is why if a band doesn't accept my friend request, especially a band out of Houston, I take it very, very personally.
Which brings me to Mechanical Boy, I sent them a friend request and got the cold shoulder. It was a week before they were headlining at Fitz with Spain Colored Orange, and to compound things, Spain Colored Orange gave me the brushoff, too. I mean, this is Myspace, the grand mecca of social networks. You don't just blow somebody off on Myspace, especially somebody seeing a therapist. I was really miffed. I went to their Fitz show anyway, just hoping they would suck, but dammit, they and Spain Colored Orange blew me away, which only infuriated me more.
When I got home that night, I wrote them both a very frank message about how I enjoyed the show but I wanted to know what the damn deal is on getting the shaft on the friend request. I started dropping names and flexing my muff. I was just trying to make the point that you never know who you're turning away, but it came off more or less as a dick move on my part -- I apologize, but I was really hurt and I have issues.
They both wrote me back very nice, very humble messages, but basically said, "dude, chill; do you have any idea how many friend requests we get?" Talk about being humbled, the whole time I was taking it as a personal affront, I never once considered that they may be so popular all they needed was time. Yep, I felt like a douche...which brings me back to July 10th and their show at Warehouse Live with The 71's and Electric Touch.
It wasn't guilt that brought me out; I was actually hoping to see them again after their Fitz show, but this time without the pretense of hoping they'd fail, and I figured if I could stay sober enough, maybe I could get a review out of it.
My apologizes to The 71's, but I got there right after their set ended -- I heard good things about them, though, and look forward to seeing them soon. When I did get to Warehouse Live, the place was packed. There were even such local celebs as Nava from thelastplacyoulook in attendance. Again, I was filled with pride that my own local brethren could pack a place and bring it harder than most of the nationals I see come through places like the Meridian.
(l to r) Regino, Anderson, Castle, & Applegate.
Ever since Mechanical Boy frontman Tim Anderson cropped his hair off, he reminds me of Luke Wilson from Idiocracy, and I do like to pretend that instead of singing he's trying to convince me not to irrigate my plants with Powerade. He roams the stage with the military precision of a worker ant, very deliberate, as if he's so lost in the music, he's oblivious to anything else going on around him. The entertainment value comes from watching guitarist Michael Regino and bassist Chris Applegate, who bounce around the stage like two kids who ran out of their Adderall prescription, try not to knock Anderson out as he moves around.
Again and again, catastrophe was narrowly averted, as Chris and Michael pulled their guitars at the last moment before they went careening in the back of Tim's head. Wildly entertaining. All this while keyboardist Jason Castle has to push Chris mid-leap with one hand to keep him from landing on his keyboards and Matt Wheeler freestyles on his kit with his grip so far back on the drumsticks you think they're going fly out of his hands and into the audience at any moment. I really wish he would choke up on his grip.
Mechanical Boy sound great live. I think they sound better live than on record; that's not to take anything away from their recordings, but the energy you feel in their live shows and the raw passion that Tim brings on vocals gets a little lost in translation. It did surprise me that the crowd didn't seem more into it. Don't get me wrong -- they were there for Mechanical Boy and were mesmerized by the performance, but Mechanical Boy's music can get rowdy and infectious, and it surprised me that not more people were jumping around like hopped-up meth bunnies. It took a miracle for me not to start climbing over people and try to start a mosh pit; I would have looked decidedly out-of-place.
I also marveled how these guys could bring that much energy onstage sober, because the only drinks I ever saw onstage were water bottles. I still I have my suspicions, though, especially after Michael did a split-kick guitar leap with a 180-degree landing and kicked the mic clean out of the kick drum. I thought the move was fly and the result was hilarious, but that was a party foul, and it really made me question what was in those water bottles. All in all, they played a great set and made way for Electric Touch to take the stage.
I finally caught up with Tim outside after the set, and he couldn't have been a nicer guy, which made me feel even more a douche for my hyper Myspace drama. We talked for a moment about the band, and I marveled at how they packed the venue even when Earth, Wind & Fire were in town. Tim said he really couldn't pinpoint any one reason for their success but mentioned longevity, promotion, and the press they've been receiving.
We eventually talked about the whole Myspace thingy, when Tim made a shocking confession to me. He told me the real reason he didn't accept my friend request in a timely fashion was because they were so sick of Myspace. They were so burnt-out on it that they barely had the energy to deal with it anymore. I was shocked. I mean this is Myspace, you know, the holy grail of spam, lurkers, and every other societal ill you can think of. I frigging love Myspace.
So please, if I ever happen to add you, you know what to do. END