Tag Archives: Mike Mains and The Branches

Mike Mains Rocks Orlando

Mike Mains Orlando Concert Review

When I reviewed Mike Mains and The Branches fantastic 2014 album, Calm Down Everything Is Fine earlier this year, I became a quick fan and anxiously awaited an opportunity to see how that fine music translated in a live setting.

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Mains, a Detroit native, had not previously played the Sunshine State, so I wasn’t too optimistic I’d have a chance to catch the band live. Fortunately, they hooked up with Jukebox The Ghost on their current tour and opened for them last night at Social Orlando. And, the nearly packed house was in for a treat, as the talented rockers churned out a blistering thirty minute set of killer pop rock.

The band took the stage and immediately kicked into one of their most intriguing offerings, “Played It Safe,” the track that also opens the album. It’s well-arranged song that spotlights Mains’ voice as it begins tenderly before exploding into an epic rock offering. It was a wise choice for the set opener, and set the stage for a strong performance (see full setlist below).

As the crowd settled in, he offered “I like you! We’re all here to have a good time and what better way than with rock and roll?’ and the party was on.  He then played a few tracks from his debut album, Home, including a nice interactive version of “Miracle” which highlighted excellent guitar work from Mains, as well as nice keyboard from his wife Shannon, who seemed to be having a blast on stage.

From there, the band jumped back into the uber-deep current album. “My My Side,” was another diverse offering that spotlighted great harmonies from Shannon, as well as the impressive range in Mains’ voice – tender one moment, a throaty growl seconds later – excellent stuff.

The multi-faceted performer also dished out plenty of catchy guitar riffs, and was constantly bouncing around the stage. He was a confident, comfortable performer who seemed in his element interacting with the crowd all night. And, the crowd loved it. They sang along, clapped along and generally had a blast, and the ever appreciative Mains seemed truly humbled by the reception.

Mike Mains with Coin's Joe Memmel
Mike Mains with Coin’s Joe Memmel

As the set drew to a close, Mains mentioned Coin, the next band to play and offered, “They’ll blow your face off.”  He then invited Joe Memmel, “the lovely” guitarist from Coin to join them on stage for a raucous version of “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright,” where Mains, unburdened by his guitar, flew around the stage and ratcheted the show up a notch.

He then slung the guitar back over his shoulder and jumped into a frenetic version of the infectious rocker “Noises,” a track with great vocals, killer riffs and catchy hooks that’s even better live than on the album. As Mains hit that last note, he unleashed a deep, primal scream, punctuating the fantastic performance with an appropriately gritty exclamation point.

The band has a few more dates on this tour with Jukebox the Ghost and Coin and are an entertaining opening act.  Full tour dates are provided below. Get there early, as this talented band is a can’t miss act just dripping with potential.

Check out our Calm Down Everything Is Fine Album Review

Rock On!
Cretin

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Tour Dates
Nov 11 Music Farm, Charleston, SC
Nov 12 New Brookland Tavern, West Columbia, SC
Nov 14 Ottobar, Baltimore, MD
Nov 15 The Southern, Charlottesville, VA

Nov 20 University of Wisconsin – Superior, Superior WI
Dec 03 Knitting Factory, Brooklyn, NY
Dec 12 Rumba Cafe, Columbus, OH
Dec 19 Mac’s Bar (MM&TB Christmas Sweater Ball) Lansing, MI

Setlist:
Played It Safe
Stereo
Miracle
By My Side
In the Night
Everything’s Gonna Be Alright
Noises

Mike Mains Album Review

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Mile Mains & the Branches, Calm Down Everything Is Fine.

The pressure on a singer-songwriter is likely never more intense than in that brief period that bridges a highly-acclaimed debut album and the recording of an artist’s sophomore effort.  As  difficult a task as that normally is, it’s virtually impossible when you’re trying to channel your inner-Boss. Fortunately, Shannon Mains reminded her husband that he needed to focus on being the first Mike Mains instead of the next Springsteen. The result: A damn good release from a talented performer.

Mains was working on the successor to his popular debut, Home, when he found himself constantly listening to Springsteen’s 1978 classic Darkness On The Edge of Town. Fortunately, with a bit of urging from his wife, he eschewed the Bruce influence and focused on his own strengths as a writer. The result, like Darkness, was a more mature and diverse offering than its predecessor, but the Springsteen comparisons end there.

Calm Down Everything Is Fine is a rock masterpiece that just oozes cool Indie Rock swagger while still offering superb pop hooks. The album is impeccably produced, courtesy of Matt Hoopes of Relient K; featuring nicely layered guitars and keyboards and highlighted by Mains’ distinctive vocals which are a perfect voice for today’s Alternative Rock landscape. I was pleasantly surprised by the prominence of Nate Wethy’s bass throughout the album, as well. The bass lines are fantastic and never lost in the mix.

The opening track, “Played It Safe” is a creative, yet dark ode to pessimism. But, it’s immediately juxtaposed with an optimistic future hit, “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright.” It’s just one of a handful of masterful sequencing touches on the album. Another example is the transition between “Noises” and “Slow Down.” The former is a pop punk anthem-in-the-waiting. I love the vocals but this one is all about the slick layered guitar and memorable riffs that absolutely demand your attention. “Slow Down” is a perfectly placed ballad that offers a chance to catch your breath and admire Mains’ more tender side.

Shannon Mains makes a mark in more ways than as a creative adviser, as we hear her tight harmonies nicely slipped into several songs, as well as a few shining moments on the keyboard.  Other strong offerings include the rocking “In The Night” and the stark and haunting “Where Love Dies.”

If there’s any downside to the album, it’s that Mains’ vocals at times feel occasionally restrained.  He lets loose at times and sounds superb, but more often than not he seems a bit reined in. Make no mistake, the vocals are catchy and provocative, and it might just be my impression, but I suspect there’s a more edgy, gravelly sound to him that’s even more appealing.

But, I’m being a bit nit-picky. This diverse offering is a must listen for fans of Pop, Alt-Rock, Indie-Rock and Pop-Punk. It’s good stuff, and an album likely to re-appear on these pages in our year-end Album of the Year listings.  Check it out below and let me know what you think.

If you only download one song: Noises – Calm Down, Everything Is Fine

Good for fans of Young The Giant, A Silent Film and Sum 41.

Rock On!
Cretin