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Show Review – John Maus at Brooklyn Steel

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Photo Credits: AnnaLee Barclay (We All Want Someone to Shout For) / Edwina Hay (Music Existence)

Seeing John Maus the past week was a dream come true for me. Finally hearing all of these songs I’ve loved for years come to life onstage was a transcendent experience, as was seeing Maus punch himself in the head probably a total of 50 times. I’ve never seen a more intense performer and the fact that he can pull this off singing along by himself to backing tracks is an inspiration to one-man-bands like myself and should be to people everywhere. The light show was perfectly tailored to Maus’ songs and was done very tastefully. If he’s playing by you and you still don’t have tickets, I urge you, see John Maus on this tour.

My relationship with John Maus began in the summer of 2011. I had already been a fan of Ariel Pink for years and knew of him when my friend told me I had to hear We Must Become the Pitiless Censors of Ourselves. That summer I was 20 years old, in love, and I’d put on the record after a night out when I’d come home and get high beyond belief. Maus’ songs spoke to me so heavily during that time period, especially ‘Quantum Leap,’ which I got to hear at the concert, and the wonderful ‘Hey Moon,’ which Maus covered with help from the song’s author Molly Nilsson. I’d go so far as to say Censors is the best indie record of the 2010s. Never a dull moment on the album. Maus refined his sense of melody perfectly and I’d say a record collection would be incomplete without it.

It took me another couple of years to get into the rest of John Maus’ material. Beyond digging on the tracks ‘Bennington,’ and ‘Rights for Gays,’ I never gave his first two albums a proper listen until after his most recent LPs Screen Memories and Addendum came out. A personal favorite for me from this past fall is ‘Maniac’ off his debut album Songs. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it as the first Maus track to play for someone, but it’s definitely an anthem and statement of purpose. I’ve yet to absorb Addendum, but Screen Memories, while not the life-changing record that Censors is, is still a 10 out of 10 LP. Basically you can’t go wrong with Maus.

I hope that the recent interview Maus gave where he implied he wouldn’t tour for much longer is just a sign that he’s tired and needs to regroup. Anyone with that kind of stage show would need to. However, it’s essential that we get more live Maus. I could sense the influence of his music growing by the diverse make-up of the crowd at the show. Bros and goths standing side by side to hear the ‘Believer’ encore? I can dig it.


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Author: Sam Wade

Classical violinist and piano player. Mostly self-taught guitarist took lessons with Vic Juris who was sampled for Gang Starr's Mass Appeal hit. Appeared in Music of the Heart with Meryl Streep (d. by Wes Craven.) Long-time home-recording artist.

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