2016 has been a good year for alternative rock bands Tiny Moving Parts and Microwave. They each released albums that pushed the boundaries of previous work as far as complexity of music and depth of lyrical meaning. However, listening to the recordings from the studio did little to prepare me for the experience of seeing them perform live last weekend at Harmony House in Rochester.
The supporting act was A Will Away, an alternative rock band from Connecticut. They warmed up the crowd with songs from their EP’s, but also treated the audience to a song from their forthcoming full-length album. ‘Gravity’ is a melodic song with a catchy hook. It’s sure to be a sing-along crowd favorite when they’re touring with Moose Blood in a couple months.
Next up on the bill was Microwave. This foursome from Georgia released their sophomore album “Much Love” earlier this year, a follow up to 2014’s “Stovall.” The audience sang along to songs about losing faith, unrequited love, and disillusionment. The stories in the songs are intensely personal, but strike a chord within those who are also searching for meaning and purpose in the modern age. Heavy on guitar and bass, the music contains a hint of southern rock. The setlist included “Something Right” and “Stovall” off their debut album, as well as songs from the new album, like “Drown” and “Lighterless.” The performance led up to a gut-wrenching climax. On the final song, “Vomit,” the drummer went ballistic and the other band members jumped and spun around on stage as lead singer Nathan Hardy screamed, “There’s no such thing as love. We just feel vulnerable without a God, without a crutch or anything else to lean on. There’s nowhere else, nobody else, nothing.”
The audience barely had time to catch their breath before Tiny Moving Parts came up on stage. The bassist, Matthew Chevalier, entered wearing a winter hat bearing the word “Minnesota” (as a reminder to the audience of the band’s origin? A piece of home for the road? Or a little of both?). His brother, Billy, took a spot behind the drums, and their cousin Dylan Mattheisen grabbed his guitar and dove right into singing “Sundress.” They played with precise coordination that is rare to find in young musicians, but it makes sense because they have been making music together since they were in junior high.
They went seamlessly from one song to the next, never letting up on the intensity. The set contained more than a dozen songs from their catalog of three albums and early recordings, including the songs “Happy Birthday,” “Breathe Deep,” “Vacation Bible School,” “Minnow,” and “Always Focused.” The positive energy was contagious, and a mosh pit opened up in the center of the room. When they got to “Common Cold,” Nathan Hardy came back on stage to accompany on vocals. The set ended as abruptly as it began, leaving the audience in an awe-stricken daze.
The performers from all three bands hung around to sign autographs and talk with fans. An impressive array of merchandise was available, including apparel, CD’s and vinyl albums, and novelty items like patches, stickers, and pins. Tiny Moving Parts was also selling some of their early work on collectible 7″ vinyl and cassette.
Tickets for this tour are available on Ticketfly.com.
Tiny Moving Parts will be heading to Europe and Mexico in the new year. A Will Away will be touring the US with Moose Blood, Trophy Eyes, and Boston Manor in February and March. Microwave is also booking shows into 2017.