I caught up with Carbon Leaf’s Terry Clark before the band’s recent show at a packed Social in downtown Orlando. As the band was preparing to embark on yet another Rock Boat excursion, we had a chance for a quick fun interview with the gregarious guitarist.
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.
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.
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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
Played It Safe
By My Side
In the Night
Everything’s Gonna Be Alright