MS MR, the New York based duo consisting of lead vocalist Lizzy Plapinger and producer/keyboardist Max Hershenow brought their one of a kind sound to one of the Bay Area's most classic venues this past weekend.
The Fox is a special place and that fact did not seem lost on the band, as Lizzy addressed the crowd upon first taking the stage saying how it was one of the largest and coolest places they'd ever had the privilege of playing.
As they started to play it seemed the stage might even be a little too big for them. The 2,800 person capacity was not quite full for the start of the main act's performance. This was by no means the fault of the band but honestly probably a casualty of Hozier closing out The Greek's 2015 series just up the road in Berkeley. But the show must go on and if that also happens to mean I can get even closer to the stage without being pushed or spilled on, then rock on!
I think the size of the space and the less than capacity crowd did affect them though. The first couple songs seemed off. Not bad, by any means just a tad off, like they were trying too hard to fill the space with the music. Lizzy's energy on stage while impressive was distracting. The dance moves were too fast and erratic, not flowing with the songs and were seemingly separate and it's own performance. I relate it to a rookie pitcher or quarterback who comes out at the beginning of a game throwing heat, raging on adrenaline and just can’t hit the strike zone or open receiver. However, like any veteran they eventually settled in and found their rhythm and the crowd followed right on board. By the time they played one of my favorite songs, ’Think Of You’, they had the crowd with them and no one would've cared if there were 20 people or 20,000 in attendance, the music and Lizzy's powerful voice had turned the tide. The easy comparison vocally at least is Florence and The Machine which I am sure they are sick of and I don’t blame them. Both leading women have strong range and depth to their sound and add in that both are London born and have red hair and strong stage presence it's a logical leap. However the overall sound is much different with a younger, edgier and with more electronic sounds more reminiscent of Phantogram or STRFKR, that results in unique tunes all their own. They played those tunes for well over an hour, and they closed with an encore of their big hit ‘Hurricane’. I as well as all in attendance left very pleased patrons.
In hindsight, the small turnout might have been a good thing for both me and the band. It will give us both a good story down the road when they're playing even bigger venues and packed houses. It would shock me if this talented duo isn't all over the festival scene in 2016, but try and see them before that. Sometimes it’s nice to catch a shooting star when it's still on its way up!