Mother Mother, Richards on Richards, Friday November 28Photos by Jon Healy
Mother Mother’s was one for the ladies. Their gleeful feminine bodies hopped along to the orgy of melody at the band’s sold-out show on Friday, and by the time Mother Mother had broken into “Oh My Heart”, the club was shaking. Two ecstatic women on the floor clutching each other as they whirled and twirled, screaming every lyric.
It’s no wonder the female component was more into it than the men – everything about Mother Mother has a feminine appeal: two lady singers, an androgynous front man more stylish than everyone else in the room, and a not-too-ugly male rhythm section. Their hooks are danceable. Their melodies are sweeter than syrup, thanks to Molly Guldemond and Debra-Jean Creelman.
Sure, the dudes in the crowd bobbed their heads along, and why not? Mother Mother is good. But for the most part, the women unleashed the glee. They were the ones singing along at the front of the stage. They dominated the monstrous, high-pitched applause after every song.
That’s not to say Mother Mother is only a chick’s band. If anything, this is a Vancouver band for Vancouver people, a city that revels in blurring gender identification. This crowd could have been cock-schlocking it at the AC/DC show 9 blocks to the south, but a quick survey of the room showed that most of the men, judging from the tightness of their jeans, are at least partially in tune with their feminine sides.
Indeed, singer/songwriter Ryan Guldemond didn’t just ignore the notion of macho posturing while on stage; he seemed to subvert it intentionally. He’s as thin as a malnourished weasel, clad in tight white pants and sporting a haircut better suited for the tail-end of a quail’s tail than for a man’s head but…well, there are no buts. His voice was a genetic experiment crossing The New Pornographers’ A.C. Newman and Neko Case – an odd sound, to say the least, and probably the band’s weakest link.
That’s not to say Mother Mother sounds like The New Pornographers, but judging from the intense applause at the beginning and end of the set, Mother Mother may be the runner-up for Vancouver’s new indie darlings, especially now that the Pornos have packed up and moved to Brooklyn.
After an impressive set by local openers Portico – whose smooth, organic take on indie rock tags them as a hip Sarah McLachlan – Mother Mother launched into an hour-plus assault on melodic sensibility with songs like “Dirty Town,” which would flow free ‘n’ easy for about eight bars and then take a Mr. Bungle-borrowed left-turn into staccato country. No two minutes were ever the same.
But the most impressive thing about Mother Mother wasn’t the energy, nor was it the songs, nor Guldemond’s quail-tail hairdo. Great bands, they have a vibe and Mother Mother’s is frisky enough to shake large audiences into a dancing frenzy, cheery enough to drown out the ugly realities of our common existence, but weird enough to appeal to the high class of musical snobbery.
That’s not to say Mother Mother is a great band, yet (the set was far from perfect), but never doubt a woman’s opinion. If she loves them, maybe you should too.