by Katy McCourt-Basham
Last Thursday, a fairly large crowd braved heavy rains to see Olympia’s Mirah play at the Vera Project. I arrived just before Lovers’ set began (I was not aware that there was another opening act, apologies to Whitney Ballen, whose set was probably very good, if the rest of the night was any indication).
Hailing from Portland, Lovers is comprised of three girls playing mostly guitar, synth and drum machine (and sometimes real drums). The emphasis on drum and synth gave their sound a very distinct Mates of State feel, but they definitely add their own personal flair. The instrumentation was strong, and Carolyn Berk’s vocals commanding. I found myself spending most of the set marveling at percussionist Kerby Ferris, who managed to juggle gracefully several electronic instruments simultaneously throughout the entire performance. The set was toe-tappin’ fun, and though they were a little bit awkward onstage, Lovers were very funny, and seemed to be truly enjoying themselves. The crowd seemed to enjoy themselves as well, doing as much bobbing and swaying as constitutes ‘dancing’ at a show in Seattle.
Hearing Mirah‘s band prepare for their set sounds a lot like the tuning-up of an orchestra pit before an opera -- there’s a cello, a violin, clarinet, a keyboard, a few guitars, and something that looks an awful lot like a sitar (though, I discovered upon hearing it later, it was not). After a longish set-change period, Mirah came onstage to significant applause, and then, as she picked up her guitar -- utter silence. The audience watched reverently as she began to pluck the first few notes of her first song, “Skin and Bones”, from her latest album (A)spera. Mirah invited the crowd to sit. The crowd was hesitant at first, but almost everyone (with the exception of a few resilient fans) sat down, giving the show a storytime feel that seemed to fit in with the whole mood of the show. Mirah played a good mix of old and new songs, including the tango-esque “Light The Match,” and a cover or two. The set was great. Mirah and Lovers were great little rays of light on a cold, rainy Seattle night.