“My only birthday wish is to fucking bring the house down……” MS MR playing Popscene at Rickshaw Stop on Thursday night, being a traditional Popscene show that runs late into the night, it literally became Lizzy Plapinger’s birthday at some point during the show. When, exactly, was anybody’s guess, as she and her partner, Max Hershenow, blasted through hit songs and songs yet to be released at the sold out show in San Francisco. Keeping with the duality of their performing and recording name, the old and the new songs split the exactly hour long set in about in half, giving fans a preview of the upcoming sophomore album, due out in July on Columbia Records. MS MR easily sold out two shows at the much larger Fillmore last year (see past review), so it was special seeing them playing a smaller, intimate venue. The new music is fantastic, and shows a lot of growth for the duo as the expand their musical horizons. I ranked their debut, Secondhand Rapture, as my favorite album of 2013, so I really look forward to seeing how the studio versions of the full album measure up to the brilliant Popscene show this past week.
Who: MS MR
Supporting: DJ Aaron Axelsen
Supporting: DJ @emmieshouse
Venue: Rickshaw Stop
Where: San Francisco, California
When: May 7, 2015
Seating: General Admission (front row center; also photo pass)
This was a different sort of Popscene show than usual, with doubled up DJ sets and then MS MR taking the stage.
Up first was DJ @emmieshouse, who was touring with MS MR through this show. Her blend of music was very well received by the crowd, which skewed younger than the typical Popscene show, sparking nostalgia for those who grew up on No Doubt, Nelly Furtado, and other 90’s & 00’s artists. She closed out her set with a sing-along that included a surprising amount of participation.
Next was Aaron Axelsen, who is in my opinion one of the best DJs performing today. He has impeccable taste in music that leads the industry, which is why his Popscene shows that he promotes are so amazing – he finds artists way ahead of everyone else, and provides a jumping off point for emerging musicians today. In addition to his ear for finding music, he has an incredible way of blending things together to create such a unique live experience taking it all in.
Each of the DJ sets ran about an hour, so from doors opening through MS MR leaving the stage, the entire affair ran three hours plus additional clubbing and dancing afterwards.
I’ve been lucky enough to see MS MR live a few times now (see reviews from The Fillmore in April 2014, The Independent in October 2013, and The Independent in June 2013), it was exciting to see them perform – ever more seasoned – with so much brand new music.
They’ve officially released one new single thus far – “Painted” – which you can stream below (and purchase on iTunes):
As far as I know, the album is not yet titled (publicly), but purportedly includes some participation by Tove Lo and MNDR. Tragically, their tour van was robbed about a year ago, and Lizzy’s laptop was stolen, among other items, and it contained a significant amount of work on the new album.
In any event, it appears that they have bounced back, and Thursday night was all about new music (and Lizzy’s birthday, but more on that later).
As mentioned in past reviews, at the beginning of 2013, I’d never heard of MS MR. I found them in Switzerland when I was covering Caprices Festival for nine nights in the Swiss Alps. In the press room, one of the photographers played two songs over and over… Snakadaktal’s “Dance Bear” and MS MR’s “Hurricane”. I’d never heard either, but became hooked, and purchased MS MR’s Candy Bar Creep Show EP and fell in love with the band and their work. I eagerly awaited the full album, but couldn’t imagine it all being as amazing as the four song EP preview (and, of course, it was).
Secondhand Rapture is filled with those catchy, hooking, original and unique songs… most bands that find some success in the industry typically do it built on one, maybe two hit songs that capture the imagination. Then every once in a while there is one of those bands that manage to craft an entire album of songs other artists would die for just to pick off one. MS MR is one of those artists, that somehow fashion together such a work of art with their first attempt. Brilliant album. I ended up choosing Secondhand Rapture as my favorite album of all of 2013… a year which included new work by some of my favorite artists.
Growing up in the 80s, hearing Secondhand Rapture for the first time brought back those feelings of hearing Yazoo’s/Yaz’s Upstairs at Eric’s… the heavy electronics and an amazing voice that just owns the lyrics, and a perfect union of a musical partnership that just sounds like it was meant to be.
I didn’t know, going into the Popscene show the other night, that it would be filled with so much new material, so that was a great bonus.
I was lucky enough to catch their sound check before the show, so that preview let me know it was going to be an awesome show.
The overall mood of the crowd – happy, excited – kind of reflected the music that we were in store for with MS MR.
Popscene features a pretty small and low stage, which is awesome as it makes for an intimate show, but maybe less moving around by the artists than you might see on a larger venue stage.
Lizzy took center with Max stage left and Grant stage right, with Zach on drums centered in the back.
New to this tour is the amazing… I don’t know what to call it… the MS MR psychedelic light up mirror? Anyway, it is fantastic, and really made the presentation more of a showcase. Loved it.
In past shows, the set list included the entire album of Secondhand Rapture (save for “Twenty Seven” – one of my favorites!). This time around, with the new songs, some trimming was employed, so what was played is as seen below:
Below is the set list from the show:
- Reckless (New Song)
- No Guilt In Pleasure (New Song)
- Salty Sweet
- Think of You
- Leave Me Alone (New Song)
- How Does It Feel (New Song)
- Dark Doo Wop
- Painted (New Song)
- [Happy Birthday to Lizzy]
I have a feeling that maybe “How Does It Feel” will be the next single, as Max guided the audience on singing along on that one.
As always, the band has great energy, and it has a bit of a house party feeling as they laugh and have fun in-between the songs and dance throughout. They definitely love what they do.
They opened the encore with the mention of Lizzy’s birthday, and Max said that she doesn’t like sweets very much, but we know that she really likes pizza… so they proceeded to bring out a slice of pizza with a birthday candle, and after the encore some of the pizza was brought out to share with fans up front.
It was another grand MS MR concert, and it definitely builds some excitement for the new album coming this summer.
Below are some photos of MS MR performing on stage (click any image to open a virtual lightroom to view higher resolution versions of each photo):